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A Most Convenient Mate

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     As Sherlock walked through the door of 221B, he knew he was not alone. He looked up to meet the eyes of the man currently sitting in his chair and drinking his tea.

     “Thank you for joining me Sherlock. I was starting to think that you weren’t coming.” Mycroft took a final sip of his drink before replacing the cup delicately on its saucer.

     He narrowed his eyes at the intruder. “Get out." 

     “That is hardly the way to speak to family is it? What would Mummy say?”

     “Oh look, you’ve eaten another whole cake. That was the third one. Today.” Sherlock responded in falsetto before removing his coat and tossing it vaguely in the direction of the coatrack. “Why are you here? Don’t you have genocide to commit?”

     “If you would simply answer my calls then this,” Mycroft gestured mildly around the room, “would be unnecessary.”

      “This is dull.”

     “Dull is hardly the word.” The chiding tone of Mycroft’s voice rubbed Sherlock exactly the wrong way.

     “Dull. Boring. Unnecessary.” Sherlock fell to the couch with a petulant expression. “I can think of 47 things that I could be doing at right this moment that would be more useful than this conversation.  Fix it now, so I may return to my Work.”

     “It’s the law Sherlock.” Mycroft resisted the urge to yell. He knew this conversation was never going to go well but that would only make it impossible. “You knew this was coming. It’s not exactly a surprise.”

     “Then maybe you should stop shoveling cake in your mouth long enough to change said unnecessary law.” Sherlock hissed at his brother.

     “If only it were so simple Sherlock.” His brother sighed. “Despite what you seem to believe, I don’t actually control every part of the entire country. Family law falls a bit outside of my area. I can assure you that I have done everything within my power to prevent this from coming to pass. It is now out of my hands, and technically you really should have been registered years ago.”

     “I shouldn’t have to be registered at all!” Sherlock shouted, indignant.

     “The Omega Protection Statute may be a relic of a bygone era but it is still very much in effect. Every unbound omega must be registered for bonding by the time they reach 21 years. You are 32 years old Sherlock. I gave you as long as I could to find a suitable Alpha to bind to; you have had ample time to pick a mate of your own- a full decade more than most. Despite what you seem to think I'm not happy about the situation either, but I am being far from unreasonable here.”

     “Dull.” Sherlock hissed. “I have no need of a mate.” He spat the last word with obvious distaste. “While some may enjoy the idea of being smothered by some overlarge oaf with a superiority complex, I haven’t the time to worship at the feet of some Alpha while there is Work to be done. You need to fix this. Now.”

     “I cannot just ‘fix it’ this time Sherlock.” Mycroft shot back. “You have come to the attention of the Project Committee. I have been informed that you have 3 days to present yourself, or you WILL be found in contempt. Not only could it affect my standing but you will lose your right of first refusal altogether.” Mycroft was desperate to make Sherlock see how dire the situation had become. “Is that what you want? Whatever alpha they set in front of you, without even the token option to say no?”

     Sherlock's eyes were angry slits as he stood to look at Mycroft. “You know what I want. I want to live my life. If you can’t fix it for me, I will have to find someone else.” 

     The omega turned on his heel and stormed out of the flat, leaving his brother frowning behind him.

*****

     Molly Hooper was always one of the first to know when Sherlock was in a truly foul mood, even if she didn't know quite what brought it on. He tended to sweep into the morgue like a rabid bat, ready to commit all sorts of atrocities on her poor corpses in the name of scientific inquiry.

     Right now he was glaring at the sample under his microscope as if it had personally offended him.

     Licking her lips Molly hesitantly offered, “If you wanted to talk about it…?”

     “It would not be with you,” was the instant response.

     “Oh. Of course.” She looked away.” I just thought I would offer. It can be good to talk about things that are bothering you. “

     “You wouldn't understand.”

     “Well. Ok. But if you change your mind, well, I’ll just be over here then.” She turned away, back to the unfortunate Mr. Douglas currently cut open on her table. A while later she was fully focused on the task of removing the liver, had in fact just plucked it from the body, when Sherlock spoke.

     “Are you attracted to alphas?”

     Molly almost dropped the organ in her hand as she stared at Sherlock, who was still staring intently into the microscope. “I’m sorry?”

     Sherlock sighed. “Do you. Find alphas. Attractive? Do try to keep up.”

     “Well. I mean.” Molly could feel her cheeks burning. “That’s a bit of a personal question isn’t it?”

     “Boring. Why do you like Alphas? A beta woman such as you doesn’t seem like the type.”

     “A woman like me?” Molly sputtered, offended.

      Sherlock looked up from the microscope, shooting an exasperated look at the flustered woman. “Yes, a woman like you. While you apparently cannot follow a simple conversation, which you initiated I may add, you do possess some small amount of intelligence.  Your biology does not require you to select an alpha so it’s purely personal preference on your part. The important question is why. Why, out of every possible choice presented to you, would you choose an alpha over a beta when frankly that seems much more your speed?”

     “I-I don't know.” Molly stuttered in embarrassment. “I mean, they are known for being sweet and strong. An alpha will always protect you no matter what. They will keep you close because you are precious to them.”

     “That sounds like a description from one of your torrid little novels. It’s obvious you have no first-hand experience here” Sherlock snapped. “But even then, some might call that smothering and possessive; a constant presence always at your back, breathing down your neck.”

     “Well maybe, some might think of it like that. But it’s terribly romantic to imagine having your safety and happiness being someone else’s highest priority” Molly defended herself. 

     “Boring” Sherlock dismissed. “That sounds utterly revolting. I would say that I thought you were above that drivel but in the end, that would be a lie.”

      “That’s not fair” protested Molly weakly. “What has you in a snit about alphas all of a sudden anyway? Is it for a case?” Molly couldn't think of any cases that might need the details of her hidden fantasies but who really knew with Sherlock.

     “I have to register” Sherlock stated shortly.

     Molly’s mouth fell open. “You?” she asked incredulously.

     “Even you are aware that I am an omega.” Sherlock muttered. “I haven’t got a choice unless Mycroft gets off of the cake long enough to do his job which, let’s be honest, isn’t going to happen.”

     “Didn't you have some kind of special dispensation? I thought for sure with your brother...” Molly let the sentence trail off.

     “Apparently not.” Sherlock snorted as Mike Stamford walked into the room.

     “Well,” Molly started with false cheer, trying desperately to find a bright side, “if you have to register at least you know that they will find the perfect match for you. People like me… we have to make the best go of it we can.”

     “People like you bore me to literal tears” Sherlock snapped. “What do you know of bond mates? Nothing. I have no desire to be bound to some random Neanderthal with more between their legs than their ears.”  Sherlock began to pace back and forth as the words flowed out of him.

     “I don't need some alpha thinking to tell me what I can and cannot do. I get enough of that from Mycroft but at least now I don't have to worry about popping out a steady supply of pups for Queen and Country,” gesturing wildly around, Sherlock startled Mike enough to send him scuttling backwards towards Molly. Neither of the betas had seen Sherlock like this before, and yet he continued to yell.

     “I’m an omega not a brood mare. I do not need to be bound ‘for my own protection’ since I can obviously do just fine protecting myself. There is no reason for me to sacrifice my Work to spend the rest of my life under the thumb of some random alpha, chosen by a committee that will most certainly take out its frustration on my brother by giving me the very worst options to ‘choose’ from. It’s barbaric, and I won’t be a part of it.”

     Sherlock threw himself onto one of the stools, uncharacteristically subdued from his rant. Molly approached him slowly. “I’m sorry Sherlock. Really. I had no idea.”

     “Exactly,” he responded icily, “you have no idea. So keep your insipid little notions about a so called ‘perfect match’ to yourself. Frankly, I haven’t the time.” Turning away to straighten his jacket and regain his composure he called over his shoulder. “I need a fresh cadaver. As recently deceased as possible, I have an experiment on post mortem bruising that pertains to an actual case, which is my actual job.”

     “Of course.” Molly quickly pulled her soiled gloves off as she went to tap on her computer keyboard. “It appears that we have one on the way actually. Time of death was only 15 min ago. He should be here shortly.”

     “That will do nicely.” Sherlock nodded with sudden apparent delight. “I should have just enough time to pop out for the riding crop.”

*****

     His leg hurt. Oh, he knew that according to both his doctor and his therapist, there was nothing physically wrong with the leg. Unlike his shoulder, it hadn’t actually gotten injured in the firefight that got him shipped back home early. It certainly didn't feel that way though. Every step was agony.

     John wanted nothing more than to lie in his bed and not leave it again; which, incidentally, is the reason he was limping through the park. The temptation was strong and it was one of the rare clear and sunny days in London; he decided to escape the sad little room he now occupied in search of brighter pastures.

     He heard a voice yell his name. “John! John Watson!”  Turning around he saw a red faced and rather portly man attempting to flag him down.

     “Mike!” he called in greeting. “It’s been ages! How are you? How are Helen and the girls?”

     Mike laughed, wheezing a little from the unaccustomed exertion as he cuffed John on what was thankfully his good shoulder. “Good as always, they are keeping me on my toes. How about you? Last I heard you were off getting shot at. What happened?”

     John blinked, surprised. “I got shot.”  He replied, carefully neutral.

     “Oh.” Mike looked away, embarrassed. “Sorry about that.”

     Shrugging it off John replied. “Don't worry about it. I knew what I was signing up for. I just wish I could go back and finish up my tour with the rest of my mates. I don't know how they will make it without me,” John joked weakly.

     Mike looked at him sympathetically. “Having a bit of a rough time then?”

     If it had been anyone other than Mike Stamford, John would have brushed his concern to the side. But Mike was one of his oldest and dearest friends, even if they had fallen out of touch in recent years. He had helped John immensely after the death of his father and he knew John just a little too well to pretend nothing was wrong. “A bit, yeah.” was his response.

     “Come along then.” Mike turned to continue down the path. “Let me buy you a pint and we can have a chat, yeah?”

     Surprised, John glanced at his watch, half past noon. “It’s a bit early for that, but” he looked at Mike’s hopeful face. “Ok, yeah let’s do it.”

*****

     The pub was off of the beaten track; laid back and with the kind of atmosphere that instantly put John at ease while he waited for Mike to bring their drinks.

     “This is a nice place.” He commented as Mike slid into the other side of the booth.

     “Yeah, I like to come here after work now and again when I want to relax with a pint before heading home.” He handed John his drink, and surprised him by handing over a basket of chips as well.

     “Thanks. What are you doing up this way today anyhow? Saturday classes?” John busied himself with his food.

     “No, nothing so horrifying” Mike smiled. “I was just returning a few things to Moll down in the morgue.”

     “Do I want to know?’ John asked with a laughing groan.

     Mike took a sip of beer. “No, not really,” he hummed, “but I’m not even the worst one for nicking interesting bits and pieces from the morgue these days. There’s a pretty stiff competition there now.”

     John groaned at his friends’ awful pun. They settled into a companionable silence as they each nursed their drink, caught up in their own thoughts.  Eventually Mike looked up at John. “So what have you been up to since you got home?”

     John thought of the little beige room and the gun hidden safely in his desk. “Not too much really.” He admitted. “I guess you can say that civilian life doesn’t seem to suit me so far. With my injuries I can’t really go back to work as a surgeon. Nerve damage, my hands just aren’t steady enough now.”

     Mike nodded with sympathy. “That’s rough Johnny boy,” he said, even though it sounded slightly odd from a man who was actually a year or 2 younger than himself. “Have you thought about setting out your shingle somewhere? Surgery isn’t everything, and I always thought you would make a good GP.”

     “Where?” asked John with a bitter laugh. “I live in a halfway house for injured soldiers because my commission won’t even cover the cost of an apartment on my own. I certainly don't have the funds to set up a practice from nothing.”

     “There are clinics all over London.” Mike pointed out. “You are a damn good doctor. You will find a place.”

     John sighed. “Yeah,” he responded. “Probably so. But I'm just having a hard time remembering the point of it all. It’s not like I really have anyone out there waiting for me.”

     “What about Harry?”

     “She very politely welcomed me home from the airport and introduced me to her new wife Clara. Then she just as politely apologized as she dropped me off at the halfway house and said that it would probably be best if I didn't come around without calling first.”

     Mike winced. “Ow. That must have stung.”

     Shaking his head John responded. “Yeah but I know how it is. Everything is still so new with her and Clara. There’s not really a place for another Alpha right now. Maybe if I hadn’t gone away...” John let the sentence trail off.  “But anyway, that’s not happening anytime soon.”

     “What about your army mates? Surely there must be a few around to form up with, at least for a little while. You know it’s not good for an alpha to go without a pack for too long. It starts to mess with your heads.”

     “No, no one else from my regiment was sent home with me, and I'm grateful for it. I’ve tried to talk to the others at the house but it’s no use, the guys there aren’t in the best of places either and I'm not going to push.  Maybe it’s just better this way.

     Mike hesitated before he offered his next suggestion. “You could always sign onto the Omega Project.”

     “No! God no Mike.” John shook his head “You know how I feel about that place.”  As nice as it would be to have a new pack of his own, the Omega Project was not the answer. It made his stomach queasy to think of basically forcing some kid to bond with him and spend the rest of their life taking care of an injured old war horse, just because he was a little lonely. “I'm twice the age of some of those kids. Talk about robbing the cradle.”

     “If they didn't want to bond they could always just use their rights to refuse the match.” Mike pointed out.

     “Twice. That’s exactly how many times they can say no, and then its whoever the project wants to tie them to, like it or not. You know as well as I do how that really works out, all of that talk about the ‘perfect match’ be damned.”

     It was true, Mike admitted to himself. Theoretically every match was supposed to be biologically cross referenced with all available alphas to ensure maximum compatibility. In reality however, many young omegas involved in the program found themselves permanently bonded to someone they would rather not sit with on the bus.

     Generally, the first matches were pretty good. The second ones were typically a fair shot as well.  But by the time an omega hit their third match, the right of refusal is all used up and they are stuck with whoever is chosen next. Sure, the alpha could object and demand a rematch, but it was rare.  There was generally a reason that third matches were third matches. 

     “It’s just the way of it John.” Mike sighed. “I don't like it either but it is an option.”

     “It’s barbaric, and I won’t be a part of it.” John snarled, startling a passing waitress as he slammed his hand against the table top.

      A light appeared behind Mike’s eyes as he smiled. “Funny, you are the second person to say that to me today.”

*****

     John walked with Stamford through Bart’s.  The man had refused to tell him anything about where they were going, trusting that his natural curiosity would keep John following behind.  John was fending off nostalgia as he looked around the hospital; he had spent many long days and nights here on the way to earning his doctorate.

      As they finally approached the morgue he noticed an odd sound. He was still trying to identify what it could possibly be as they entered the room; therefore he was completely unprepared for the sight of a sweat drenched omega, apparently doing his best to kill a cadaver with a riding crop.

     The man was beautiful, there was no denying it. Almost beautiful enough to distract from the fact that-“Why are you beating a corpse?”

     He stopped instantly, pivoting on one heel as he turned sharply to stare at John. Narrowed eyes raked over him, leaving him feeling strangely naked for a few brief moments. John could almost hear the wheels spinning in the man’s head as he looked between John and the infuriatingly smug Mike. With a casual toss he threw the riding crop on the table beside him and strode directly into John’s personal space.  

     The man smelled fantastic. John had been around other omegas before of course, even a few unbonded, but he had never smelled an omega that affected him quite like the faintly spicy scent of oranges and cloves wafting from the man in front of him.  John was so distracted that he almost missed it when the man finally spoke, “Afghanistan, or Iraq?”

     “How did you know?” he asked before looking at Mike, who held up his hands in mock surrender.

     “I had nothing to do with it John. This is sort of his thing.”

     A small huff drew John’s attention back to the man in front of him. “Don’t be dull. Answer the question.” He paused for a moment, adding almost as an afterthought, “please.”

     “Afghanistan.” John responded.

     “Hm.”  The man began prowling around him like a large, deadly cat. John suppressed his natural urge to keep his back away from the strange man. What was going on here? “Do you have any particular feelings about the violin?”

     “Not in particular no.” john shook his head, confused. “Why?”

     “I play when I’m thinking, sometimes for hours. I often don’t talk for days on end. Would that bother you?”

     “Why would it? It’s your own business what you do in your spare time.”

     “Potential bondmates should know the worst about each other.”

     “Now wait just a second.” John sputtered rounding the table as he gave in to his instinct to put some distance between himself and the omega. “Who said anything about bondmates?”

     “I did,” was the quick response. “Mike is aware of a rather difficult issue I am currently experiencing and now here he is just after lunch with an old friend, an unbonded alpha in need of a pack in fact,  one clearly just home from medical service in Afghanistan.  It wasn’t an unreasonable conclusion.”

     “And how precisely did you come to that conclusion then?”

     Looking at him evenly, the man eventually replied, “Military history is the easy bit, from the hair on your head to the way you hold yourself you scream soldier. However, you are also obviously familiar with the hospital; you have been in this room in particular several times before based on your reactions. That says student; so doctor then- far too obvious. You are still sporting a tan but not above the wrists so you were in uniform, not on vacation. That also indicates the shortness of time since you have been home, much longer and the lines would have faded away entirely. You move stiffly favouring your shoulder, that must be where you got shot, sending you home early. All of that adds up to two possibilities, one of which you confirmed when you answered Afghanistan.”

     John nodded, intrigued. It seemed perfectly obvious, said like that; even if he wouldn’t have been able to put that together on his own.  “And the rest of it then?” he asked with almost morbid curiosity.

     “Even those dunces down at the NSY could tell you are unbonded, no bond marking on your neck and a distinct smell that says that you are still available. You are holding your phone, I can clearly see an inscription on the back to Harry from Clara, so that implies that there is a bond there; most likely it was a gift since your name is in fact John. It’s a newer model and expensive but the screen is quite badly cracked. Not badly enough to render it unusable but enough to make replacing it worthwhile. If you were expected to join your brother’s pack then he would have made an effort to buy something new.

     As it stands, he feels obligated to help but wants to make it clear that another alpha would not necessarily be welcome at this time. This also implies that the bond is fairly new, they aren’t secure enough in their pack dynamic to consider an alpha from even blood family ‘safe’ quite yet.”

     He paused and looked at John quickly, as if to gauge his reaction before continuing. “So, soldier shipped back home early from the war, separated from his comrades in arms and not welcomed back into the family fold. You are displaying several signs of intense emotional distress, insomnia and that psychosomatic injury to your leg being the two most obvious. It’s common knowledge that any alpha without a pack for an extended amount of time suffers mentally and physically.  Beyond that, you are a doctor and intelligent enough to know the symptoms of the problem and the solution to it.”

     “Brilliant.” John muttered to himself before looking up. “But what does that have to do with bonding with you? I don’t even know your name. You don’t know me either. That is a little forward when we haven’t even been introduced.”

     “Where does one go to just get a pack?” he asked simply, “The Omega Project is the obvious choice, minimum fuss and priority for Her Majesties’ soldiers.” His lips pinched in obvious distaste.  “If you are willing to go there to choose a mate without so much as a conversation first, I don’t see why you would be opposed to rescuing me from their grubby grasping paws. Especially since I wouldn’t be charging you the frankly outrageous fee,” he paused a moment before continuing the thought as if it had just occurred to him, “unless you find me particularly unattractive?”

     John laughed dryly. “This is utterly surreal. Are you really suggesting that we bond forever because I’m lonely and you’re desperate?”

     The man moved closer to John, resting his hands on the table between them. Again John had that feeling of being strangely naked under the omega’s piercing gaze. “I know more about you now than I would be permitted to know about my so called mate before my bonding.  If the committee gets its bloodthirsty claws on me I wouldn’t even be allowed to see them beforehand. And make no mistake; if you say no, that is exactly where I will end up.”

     John looked up at the tall man. Biting his lip briefly he opened his mouth to respond just as someone burst loudly through the morgue door.

     Ignoring the startled doctors the man’s eyes latched instantly onto the omega. “Sherlock!” he barked. “Thank God, I’ve been everywhere. There’s a case. Will you come?”

Chapter Text

     “I know more about you now than I would be permitted to know about my so called mate before my bonding.  If the committee gets its bloodthirsty claws on me I wouldn’t even be allowed to see them beforehand. And make no mistake; if you say no, that is exactly where I will end up.”

     John looked up at the tall man. Biting his lip briefly he opened his mouth to respond just as someone burst loudly through the morgue door.

     Ignoring the startled doctors the man’s eyes latched instantly onto the omega. “Sherlock!” he barked. “Thank God, I’ve been everywhere. There’s a case. Will you come?”

*****

     The relief that Greg felt when he finally saw Sherlock was almost indecent.

    “Lestrade, what’s happened?”

     “You can’t read it in the creases of my shirt then? There’s been a murder in Knightsbridge.”   Lestrade scoffed, why else would he be running slapdash across London?

     “Of course there has been a murder,” Sherlock suddenly grinned, a disturbingly gleeful expression under the circumstances.  “A particularly gruesome one judging by the blood clinging to the side of your shoe; omega was it?”

“Locked room; quite bloody yes,” Lestrade jumped right to the point, knowing his audience. “She’s in pieces.”

     “Christmas has come early.” Sherlock laughed as he rushed to gather his things. “Who’s on the scene?”

     Greg winced slightly Sherlock wasn’t going to like this. “Anderson.”

     As expected Sherlock stilled, shooting him a dirty look. “Anderson won’t work with omegas.”

    Actually, Anderson won’t work with Sherlock but, “Well, you’re bloody well going to have to figure something out. Now will you come?”  Lestrade didn’t have time for this. He had left with strict instructions to hold the scene until he returned but he had wasted too much time trying to hunt Sherlock down. The omega’s refusal to respond to his phone was maddening, especially on cases where they actually needed his interference.

    “Not in a police car.” Not surprising, Sherlock had spent too much time in the back of a police car to climb into one willingly. “I’ll be right behind.”

     “Hurry.” Greg didn’t have time to show his relief. Grabbing his phone, he rushed back to his vehicle. He had to get back to the scene and let the team know that Sherlock was on the way.

*****

     The omega’s sudden change of body language when the door slammed open startled John. Instantly every trace of supplication was erased and his attention shifted, razor sharp, to the stranger.

    “Sherlock!” he barked. “Thank God, I’ve been everywhere. There’s a case. Will you come?”

     John watched the exchange with increasing disbelief. What precisely was going on here? The man was obviously with the police but why would the police be asking the omega for help? Why did the man- no, John corrected himself, Sherlock- seem so excited at the idea?

     As the two men rushed out of the room without a backward glance, John turned incredulously to Mike. “What kind of maniac are you trying to get me involved with?”

     Mike, damn him, laughed. “Sherlock can come on a bit strong,” Well, if that wasn’t the understatement of the bloody year. “But he is brilliant at what he does. You get used to him.”

     “I’m not sure I really want to get used to him to be perfectly honest.”  John protested, even as he realized that it was a lie. Sure the man was apparently mad as a hatter, but for the first time in a while John felt more than just the muffled depression he had come to know. There was just something about Sherlock that called to him instinctually.

     “Well that would be a shame,” noted a rather dry voice from the door.  Whirling back, John saw that Sherlock had returned. The man was leaning in the door frame, studying him with apparent interest.  “You are a doctor. In fact, you’re an Army doctor.”

     “I rather think we have established that yes.” What was he on about now?

     “Any good?”

     John’s hackles instantly rose. How dare he imply? “Very good,” he bit out between clenched teeth.

     “You’ve seen a lot of injuries then; violent deaths. A bit of trouble too, I bet.”

     “What is your point then?” surely there must be something John thought. People didn’t typically bring things like that up in polite conversation; he was coming to expect that Sherlock would prove to be the exception to that rule.

     “Do you want to see some more?”

     John was grinning wolfishly before he even realized he responded, “Oh God, yes.”

     Sherlock’s answering smile was sharp. “Then what are you waiting for? The game is on John.” And with a whirl of his coat, Sherlock was gone.

     Mike Stamford shook his head bemusedly as John chased Sherlock without a second thought to the man left behind. He had had a few bad ideas in his time, but he rather suspected that introducing the two of them was one of the better ones. Humming lightly to himself Mike made his way out of the room, off to let Molly know about the cadaver left forgotten on the table.

*****

    

     Sherlock frowned thoughtfully out the window as the taxi wove through traffic.  He knew he didn’t have enough information on the case yet, and so he forced himself to put it out of his mind. Baseless suppositions would get him nowhere.   

    No, the thing that had Sherlock’s attention was the conundrum of the man sitting next to him. The idea of throwing himself on the tender mercies of the Committee was simply unthinkable. John did seem like an excellent solution to the dilemma, though Sherlock didn’t like the idea that he would come with his own set of issues. He simply didn’t have enough data about the man to understand his intentions beyond the obvious.

     Therein lied the rub; Sherlock would still end up bound to an alpha. If he proved to be a hindrance to the Work after they were bound, Sherlock’s life would become infinitely more complicated.  The case would be a test of sorts, a way to see how John would react when faced with the Work. There were still risks of course, bonds were tricky business and unpredictable, but it was still far less of a risk than playing Russian roulette with the Omega Project.

     Beyond that, the man was legitimately interesting. Even the small excitement of getting pulled into the case had made John forget about his apparently injured leg. So, he wasn’t just suffering from a lack of pack but a lack of excitement as well. The man was an adrenaline junkie, as so many alphas were, and he was apparently going out of his mind with boredom. Sherlock could certainly relate to that.

     Another interesting development was the scent radiating from the alpha. Clean cedar over faint hints of bergamot and pine, Sherlock couldn’t help but breathe deeply to take in its nuances.  Sherlock’s entire life was spent around alphas of every type, but he hadn’t ever been so taken in by the pheromones they released. Usually he was able to brush them off fairly quickly as another layer of data before moving on. On the surface, that was a good sign- biologically they would be compatible. Not that that meant much to Sherlock since he had no interest in the process of having pups at all. That would have to be made clear he noted to himself.

     Turning slightly, he studied John through the corner of his eye. John sat stiffly, staring straight ahead and rubbing absently at a threadbare place on the cuff of his shirt. He was nervous then. More than likely wondering what he was doing in a cab with an omega he had met, Sherlock glanced at his watch, 23 minutes ago. That wasn’t helpful at all.

     “Do you have any questions for me?” Sherlock detested being pestered with simple questions but he justified it to himself by saying it would save time later.

     John startled slightly, clearly not expecting Sherlock to speak. “What was that?”

     Resisting the urge to say something biting, Sherlock repeated the question. “You clearly have something on your mind. We still have several minutes until we arrive, now would be the obvious time to get any tedious questions out of the way.” Well, he was only human after all.

     John rolled his eyes slightly before clearing his throat. “Okay then. I guess the most pressing is why exactly are we sitting in a taxi on the way to see a dead body?”

     Not exactly inspired, but not unexpected either. “Why do you think?” this could be enlightening.

     Silence stretched for a few moments before John slowly answered. “I would say a private detective but…” the sentence trailed off.

     The disappointment that lanced through Sherlock’s chest was unexpectedly sharp. “You don’t think an omega capable of the job,” Sherlock finished with forced mildness.

     “No!” John surprised them both by yelling. Taking a quick breath to regain his composure slightly he continued “It’s not that at all. Any idiot could see you would be brilliant at it, but the police don’t go to private detectives.”

     Sherlock felt a strange warmth when John said that.  Studying the faintly embarrassed pinkness of his ears and the outraged set of his shoulders Sherlock decided that he was being sincere. This was interesting.  Outwardly he only responded by reaching into the breast pocket of his coat and producing one of the cards he kept there.

     John studied the simple white business card. “Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective,” he read aloud. “What does it mean? I haven’t heard of a consultant detective before.”

     “I would be surprised if you had.” Sherlock responded easily. “I created the position myself; I am the only one in the world.”

     “What is it that you do then?”

     “When the police are out of their depth, which is always,” Sherlock scoffed, “they call me and I solve the crime for them if it’s interesting enough.”

     “That’s amazing.” John mused to himself. Sherlock decided he could live with John’s apparent habit to say things like that aloud. He wondered if the man even noticed he was doing it. “You must be very good then.”  John stated, looking curiously towards the detective, “For Scotland yard to be calling you in for advice.”

     Was this a test? Sherlock looked at John evenly for a moment. “In the course of a conversation I was able to deduce not only your military history but also your medical and familial history as well. Yes, I am very good.” There was no point in being falsely modest.

     “Yes,” John agreed readily. “But you did make several mistakes as well.”

     Straightening up, Sherlock turned fully to the man with interest. “Elaborate.”  Damn, there was always something.

     “Well, you were spot on with most of it, but it was the little things. Like my sister.”

     “Sister.” Sherlock raised an eyebrow.

     “Harry, short for Harriet actually.” John corrected with a cheeky smile. “And she’s an omega, not an alpha. Clara is the one who isn’t all for me moving in on their pack.”

     “The bonded alpha feels threatened by the blood ties that you share with her omega.” Sherlock mused, nodding. That made as much sense as the idea that John’s sister was still overprotective of her new wife.

     “Exactly.” John looked away. “I’m not upset about it though. Clara has been doing great things for Harry, she always had a bit of a problem with the bottle but she’s been doing well. She’s a lot younger than me too; she just turned 21 this year. I was 17 when Harry was born and people always assumed she was my daughter; it was hard for her. I’m happy for them.”

     The conversation stretched into silence for several minutes as they each became lost in their thoughts. Eventually though, Sherlock spoke again. “You said several, what was the other mistake?”

     “The Omega Project.” John looked back at Sherlock with a sudden intensity that Sherlock was not expecting. “You assumed that I was on my way there for a mate.”

     “You weren’t?”  Sherlock asked with a slight tinge of alarm; this was a major miscalculation, he realized. If John wasn’t actually looking for a mate then Sherlock could be back where he started.

     “I hate that place.” John nearly spat. “The things that they do there- it’s not right. They lure in young omegas with the promise of a ‘perfect match’ and then they pair them up with the highest bidder or give them to some random whoever when they put up a fuss.” Sherlock nodded, it wasn’t news to him. “Even if the kid doesn’t want to go, unless they can find someone to bond with before their 21st birthday then they have no choice.”

     “Some might say that it’s for their own good.” Sherlock pointed out with careful neutrality. “An unbonded omega is believed to be particularly vulnerable, particularly during their heats.”

     “You know as well as I do that that’s hogwash.” John looked at him incredulously. “Look at yourself; you are obviously fine as you are. Plus, now that there are options out there to supress heats and control birth rates, there are no reasons that an omega would need an alpha unless they want one. There is no reason for the Project to exist anymore. It’s all political posturing to maintain the status quo.”

     Sherlock found it fascinating that John’s eyes had dilated slightly and his voice picked up a certain growling quality that belied his alpha nature as he spoke on the subject. He found himself looking at the man in a suddenly very different way. “Exactly.” He murmured in agreement, before giving John one of his rare genuine smiles. Yes, he suspected John Watson would do nicely. Now Sherlock just had to convince him that he was in the market for a bondmate after all.

*****

     The taxi dropped them outside of an immense house in one of the poshest parts of the city. John was again struck at how surrealistic today was turning out to be. This morning he woke up alone in his small beige bed in his small beige room and thought about ending it all. Now, scarcely five hours later, he was quickly striding into a thicket of police activity to investigate a murder with a handsome omega who wanted to bond with him. If this was a dream, he wasn’t entirely sure he could bear to wake up.

     “Look, what exactly am I supposed to be doing here? I’m not exactly trained for this.” John asked Sherlock quietly as they walked. There were several people shooting them dirty looks John noticed, hackles raising slightly.

     “Just follow my lead John.”  Sherlock said, confidently approaching the police line.

     A hostile young female alpha with dark hair stepped firmly in front of them before they could cross. “Hello, Freak.” She smiled nastily at Sherlock and she ignored John entirely.

     Sherlock’s voice had taken on the no nonsense tone that John remembered from the morgue.  “I’m here to see Detective Inspector Lestrade.”

     “And why is that?” the officer asked, maintaining her stance and blocking Sherlock’s path into the crime scene.  John decided he really did not like the woman, and subconsciously moved closer to defend Sherlock if necessary.

     If Sherlock noticed John’s posturing he didn’t let on. “I was invited.”

     “Why?” She was getting off on this, John realized. Pushing her weight around like that was far even for alphas, something was going on between the two and he didn’t like it.

     Stepping forward, John put himself between Sherlock and the woman. “You have a radio there.” He pointed out, gesturing to the other alpha’s hip. “Why don’t you call the inspector and find out for yourself.” The woman looked at him, narrowing her eyes as she took in the clear challenge on his face and sized him up. John was ready for her to try to start a fight, but after a few tense moments she grudgingly reached for the radio.

     “Freak’s here. Bringing him in,” she looked again at John. “Apparently he brought a friend.”  

     “Colleague.” Sherlock corrected, stepping nimbly around John and ducking under the police tape. “Doctor John Watson.” Turning back to the two alphas, still squaring up against one another, he gestured between them. “Doctor Watson, Sargent Sally Donovan. She’s an old friend.” Sarcasm dripped heavily from Sherlock’s voice but John was too busy staring down Sargent Donovan to acknowledge the snub.

     “So the freak has a pet then?” Sally taunted. “What did he do? Follow you home?”

     John growled in warning, but before he could take a step towards the Sargent he was stopped by a hand on his arm. “Let it go, there is work to be done.” Sherlock threw an appraising glance at the other Alpha. “She’s just in a snit because Anderson’s wife came back early; doesn’t particularly like the idea of hiding in closets, apparently.”

     “What’s taking you lot so long to cross a garden?” The voice from the radio broke in before Sargent Donnovan could do something she would regret. “Hurry up; things aren’t getting any fresher in here.”

      With a dirty look and a snarl of her own Sally Donovan spun and stormed into the house, leaving the two men to make their way in on their own.

     “That was unnecessary,” Sherlock murmured to John once there was some distance between themselves and the angry woman.

     “Sorry,” John replied easily, more relaxed now that the threat was gone. “I didn’t like her attitude.”

     Sherlock shot him an odd look that John couldn’t quite read before turning to continue walking. They were nearly to the house before Sherlock glanced back at him. “Thank you.” And with that, he strode inside leaving John to trail behind.

     The inside of the house was beautifully understated. Warm woods and colours created warmness even as the expense of the contents let you know that someone very successful lived there. It was all very impressive until they stepped into the study and the smell of death hit their noses.

     There was a body, or most of a body, behind a rather impressive desk at the back of the room. The woman was tied to the desk chair by a nylon rope and missing several fingers of her right hand. The missing fingers hadn’t gone far however, they were lined up in the desk with a neatness that made John slightly sick to his stomach. The stench of old blood and decay hung heavy in the air.

     “There you are.” The man from before came up to Sherlock, breaking John’s attention on the woman. “It took you long enough.”

     “Maybe if your officers weren’t more interested in fighting my colleague than showing me to the scene, we could have shaved a few minutes off of the time?” Sherlock drawled.

     “Colleague?” he asked, incredulous. John thought it was rather interesting that that was the only noteworthy part of the sentence. What exactly was Sherlock’s role here?

     “Dr. John Watson, this is DI Lestrade.” Sherlock said, obviously already tired of the repeated introductions. “Lestrade, this is John.” Turning back to the room Sherlock absently rubbed his hands together. “Now, back to business; what do we know?”

     Shooting John one more curious look Lestrade turned back to Sherlock and began filling him in on the details of the case.  “Mrs. Adaline Morten, omega, husband died about twenty years ago leaving her to run their auction house in his stead. By all accounts it is very successful, specializing in rare art and antiques.  Yesterday afternoon she came into her study to do some work. She locked the door behind her and the only key is sitting in her desk drawer. When she didn’t take her supper last night no one was concerned, she often skipped meals if she was working. But when it was discovered that she did not return to her bed last night or attend breakfast today the housekeeper became concerned.”

“Does anyone else live in the house?”

“The housekeeper lives in the detached gatehouse flat but she said she didn’t notice any odd noises and went to bed around eleven.”

“Then how did she find the body?”

“After breakfast she tried to knock on the door, after there was no response she called the gardener who removed the hinges.  This is what they found. They called the police immediately at that point. “

     “Why wait?” Sherlock asked. “If no one was answering the door, why not call emergency services immediately?”

     “Apparently our victim was extremely private by nature. The housekeeper didn’t feel like it was worth her job to call the police if there turned out to not be anything wrong after all.”

     “So she called the gardener in to break into the office instead.” Sherlock stated with obvious doubt in his voice. “That’s not strange at all.”

   As he moved to go around the desk a rather nasal voice suddenly spoke up “This is a crime scene, I don’t want it contaminated. Are we clear?” A ferrety looking man glowered at Sherlock from the far wall, where he had been standing unnoticed. John shook his head in amazement. What was it with these people? Was Lestrade the only one on the whole scene that wanted Sherlock here?

     “And there is Anderson.” Sherlock commented brightly. “How is your wife?”

     The man didn’t respond, shooting Sherlock another dirty look before stepping into the hall and shutting the door.

     “Why must you antagonize them Sherlock?” Lestrade asked with a sigh.

     “It’s not my fault that they can’t keep their messy little secrets to themselves.” Sherlock retorted before turning back to the woman before him thoughtfully. “John, come here.”

     “I’m right here Sherlock.” But still, John moved a step closer.

     “What do you notice about our victim?” Sherlock asked, never looking up from his inspection of the corpse.

     “Wait just a second.” Lestrade protested, taking a step as if to pull John away from the desk before he thought better of it. “We have an entire team right outside.”

     “A team that won’t work with me, Lestrade.” Sherlock retorted with a slightly bitter edge that made John want to growl at the Inspector.

     “I’m breaking every rule just letting you in here.”

      “And why is that exactly? We could leave, let you and your team get back to it.” Sherlock responded frostily, moving as if he was going to vacate the room.

      “No,” Lestrade was quick to answer.  “We need you, God help us.”

     “Good.” Sherlock responded shortly. “Now that that’s sorted, John, look at this and tell me what you see.”

     That was rather interesting, John thought as he moved around to the other side of the desk. It wasn’t often that you saw an omega take on an alpha in a fight for dominance and win. Every time he thought he was getting a bead on Sherlock, the man surprised him.

      “Victim is an omega female, probably early 50’s, obviously well off.”  Pushing aside his discomfort with practiced ease, John leaned close to the body to better see the grisly wounds. “These fingers were removed, but it wasn’t a medical job by far. I would say bolt cutter or something similar. The ends were also cauterized, likely so she wouldn’t bleed out. Taken with the bruising on her face this reads like torture, but why?”

     Sherlock nodded at John approvingly. It made John feel almost inappropriately happy, considering the circumstances.  “Very good, any ideas on cause of death?” Sherlock asked, prodding for him to continue.

     Looking back at the body, John carefully catalogued the various injuries until- “Here.” He pointed to a wet patch on her head, nearly hidden by her hair. “Blunt force trauma to the temple; she would have died in minutes.” 

     “Exactly. Good Job.” Hopping up, Sherlock walked back to Lestrade and left a bewildered John behind him.

     “This isn’t a very good example of a locked room Lestrade. I really expected better of you.” Sherlock said as he removed his latex gloved. “This is a four- five at best.”

     “If it was so easy, then why don’t you let me in on it?” The detective asked with obvious irritation.

     Sherlock turned back to the body. “The woman was tortured. There is no bruising around the mouth so she wasn’t gagged. She would have screamed; quite a lot I imagine. More than likely she was tortured for information. I’m sure that if you check on the victim’s business contacts you will find that not all of her treasures came to her in the most ethical way.

      But back to the point, if there has been anyone on the grounds during murder they would not have failed to notice the screaming. The housekeeper did it. Her prints around the room are expected; as she is the one who keeps it clean, it wouldn’t be noteworthy. She killed the victim last night and locked the door behind her on the way out. This morning she called the gardener to help her ‘discover’ the body. She is likely a plant from someone whose business with the auction house was…less than satisfactory.”

     John couldn’t stop the breathy “That’s fantastic,” from escaping his lips. He blushed as Sherlock shot him another puzzled little smile.

     “Do you know that you say that out loud?”

      “Sorry. I’ll shut up.” John kicked himself. He sounded like a pup with his first crush.

     “No,” Sherlock responded, eyes a little too wide as he looked at John. “It’s fine.” The man looked away awkwardly before turning back to Lestrade. “If that’s all then?”

     “I’ll get the boys on it and call if I have any other questions.” Lestrade said as he wrote everything into his notebook. “It would be helpful if you were to answer your phone.”

     “Don’t be dull Lestrade.” Sherlock dismissed him effortlessly before turning to John.

     “How do you feel about Italian?”

     “Italian is good I guess.” John said, thrown by the abrupt turn of the conversation.

     “Great, I know this little place, the owner loves me.” Sherlock stated before turning to walk out the door. “You’ll like it.”

*****

     Angelo was a bear of a man, but John decided he liked him as they were ushered to a private corner booth. He even produced a rather sad little candle to put on the table between them with a wink.

     “Anything thing on the menu, whatever you want, for free,” he boomed in that deep voice. At John’s look he continued. “This man got me off of a murder charge. He cleared my name!”

     “I cleared it a bit.” Sherlock responded, but without bite. Turning to John he added, “Three years ago I successfully proved to Lestrade that at the time of a particularly vicious triple murder, Angelo was in a completely different part of town house-breaking.”

      Angelo laughed fondly, patting Sherlock on the shoulder.  “If not for this man, I would have gone to prison.”

     “You did go to prison.” Sherlock shot back which only resulted in another laugh and a promise to bring their drinks soon.

     “Order whatever you like.” Sherlock said as he broke a breadstick in half, dipping it in the olive oil on the table.  

     “I’m a simple man.” John laughed looking up from the menu. “I’ll order the spaghetti and be happy for it.” As Sherlock locked eyes with him, he suddenly realized what was happening. “Sherlock,’ he said with an odd note to his voice, “is this supposed to be a date?”

     The omega only hummed in response. After a few moments he looked up at John. “I think you should know that I consider myself married to my work.”

     “Okay.” John responded awkwardly, wondering where Sherlock was going with this.

     “Did you enjoy it?” Sherlock asked, head tipping to the side as he inspected the uncomfortable alpha. “The work, I mean.”

     “Is enjoy really the right word for that?” John asked.

     Thinking for only a moment Sherlock responded “Yes.”

     “It was exciting.” John admitted, rubbing the back of his neck and praying for Angelo to come back; though, knowing Sherlock that wouldn’t stop him at all. “And we solved the murder, so that was really satisfying. So…yeah”

     Sherlock nodded his head in apparent satisfaction. “Okay then.” There was a jingling at the door as a young beta came in and begun looking around the restaurant. “If we were bonded, you would be able to help me whenever I had a case. If you wanted to, that is.”

     John looked evenly at the man; taking in the little tells that he was able to read so clearly for some reason. Sherlock was nervous. “Look, I had a really good time. We did something great. But I don’t think you know what you’re suggesting. Bonding is about more than just convenience. There has to be a connection there, or it means nothing. There is no taking it back if you change your mind. I like you a lot Sherlock, but I want a mate and not just an easy partner in crime. If I bond with you, I could lose the chance.”

     “Um, Excuse me.” John looked up in surprise at the interruption, they young beta women stood awkwardly behind him. “Sorry to interrupt your- this. Sherlock, I brought this thing you asked for.” She held out a familiar length of metal; John’s cane he realized with shock. “Anyway, I have a dinner date so we’ll catch up later okay?” she said into the awkward silence before setting the cane down and hurrying off, obviously relieved to escape the tension between the two.  

     “I never wanted an alpha John.” Sherlock said, looking evenly at him. “I would not lie to you; If circumstances weren’t what they are, I wouldn’t be asking you to do this for me. But if you say no, in two days I will be bonded to someone that I have likely never met. You don't have to agree to be my mate; you have no obligation to me at all. But now you do know me, you know what I do. If you decide that you want to get in touch, you have my card and know how to reach me.”  

Sherlock stood, replacing his scarf as he looked at John one last time “I don’t think I would mind having an alpha so much, if that alpha was you.” With that, Sherlock turned and walked quietly out of the restaurant, leaving John staring at an abandoned cane behind him.

    

Chapter Text

     Angelo seemed used to Sherlock’s disappearing act John noted as he made his excuses to the still brightly smiling man. As he walked outside, he thought for a moment about flagging down a taxi, but the night air was cool and pleasant. Perhaps a walk would help clear his head, he decided. He could always get on the tube if he wanted to hurry back to his bedsit, he thought with a snort.

Sherlock was a study in opposites. He said that he wasn’t interested at the same time he proposed forever. He seemed sincere before he left the restaurant, John decided, thinking back at the look in those icy blue eyes before Sherlock had abandoned him at the table. John felt an odd pang in his chest at the thought.

     They had had a good time today hadn’t they? John had felt something spark between them as they worked the case together. Could that really lead to the honest soul bond that John had always hoped for? But, on the other hand, could he really abandon that obviously brilliant omega to his fate with the Committee? What if he was bound to someone who refused to let him continue his career? The man might actually go mad.

     John’s easy pace really hadn’t taken him far when a black car with tinted windows turned onto the street and began to slowly roll up behind him.

     At first he tried to ignore the car, but something about it sent alarm bells blaring in his head. He had come to trust his instincts in Afghanistan; they had saved him more than a few times when something just didn’t seem quite right. John spotted a tiny bookshop just ahead and ducked quickly through the door; he felt almost silly hiding from a car on the street as he moved into the shop and turned to look at the window. He didn’t see the car for a few moments, and was just starting to really kick himself for letting his imagination run away from him when it pulled up to the kerb outside and stopped moving.

     John looked around the shop and spotted the sales assistant in one of the aisles shelving books. He was just moving towards her to see if there was a back door he might be able to use, when his phone began to ring. He looked down at the small device in his hand; there was no number on the screen. Against his better judgment John answered the phone, turning to keep an eye on the silent car as he spoke. “Hello?”

     “There is a security camera on the building opposite. Do you see it?” the voice on the other end of the phone was obviously aristocratically male, but other than that John didn’t recognize it at all.

     “Who is this?” he asked suspiciously.

     “Do you see the camera Doctor Watson?” the voice repeated, impatiently.

      Inching towards the window, John finally picked out the small shape of the camera above the door of the chemist across the street.  “I see the camera.” The camera slowly turned to stare directly at him through the window.

     “Hello, Doctor Watson.”  The man said, with something almost but not quite approaching cordiality.

     “What do you want?” John asked.

     “Just a chat is all.” The man responded. “Please, get into the car.”

     “Yeah,” John replied with a bitter laugh. “That’s not happening. What kind of idiot do you take me for?”

     “I could make some kind of threat, Doctor Watson, but is that strictly necessary? I simply wish to speak to you about… a mutual acquaintance.”

     “We can talk on the phone, just like we are now. I’m not getting into that car so they can find my body in the Thames tomorrow.” Slowly, John began to edge backwards. There had to be another way out of this shop; a delivery entrance at the very least.

     It was silent for a moment. John got the distinct impression that the man was laughing at him. He did not appreciate it. “I assure you Doctor that if I wanted you to disappear they would not find the body, in the Thames or otherwise.”

     “That’s not exactly reassuring, you do realize.”

     “Please get into the car. My patience is wearing dangerously thin. I promise on my honour that if you come willingly no harm will come to you.”  The voice was clipped and impatient, John noted as he looked out the window one last time.

     “And if I run?” John asked, though he suspected that he knew the answer.

     “That would not be advisable.” The call disconnected with a beep. John checked the history on his phone, but just as he suspected there was no sign of any call.

     “Shit.” He swore lightly to himself, suddenly wishing desperately for his gun. The way he saw it, there was really only one way to go, but no one said that he had to like it. After a few moments, John walked outside.

*****   

     In retrospect, Sherlock could have been paying more attention his surroundings. His mind was still caught up in the puzzle that was Dr John Watson as he made his way down the darkened street towards home. The man in the green wool scarf didn’t warrant a second look, until he felt the hand at his shoulder and the syringe pressing into the side of his neck.

*****

     John opened the door to the car and bent to look in at the man sitting inside. “Hello.”

     “Hello Doctor.” The man smiled with an insincere grimace. “Please, have a seat.” He gestured to the bench across from him.

     John climbed inside. As he settled onto the bench seat he felt the car pull smoothly out into traffic. Great, he thought with a slight scowl. He was going to be severely put out if he had to bail out of a moving vehicle with his shoulder in the condition that it was in. 

     There was something about the alpha that seemed familiar, even as John was sure that he had never seen him in his life. The man was immaculately dressed in an expensive bespoke suit, and obviously a few years older than John. His slightly ginger hair was thinning on top and he had a rather unfortunate nose under his critical eyes.  For a few minutes they said nothing, each trying to stare the other down, each refusing to be the first look away.  Eventually though the stranger seemed satisfied by whatever he saw.

     “You don’t seem very afraid.” There was a trace amusement there that made John bristle.

     “You don’t seem very frightening,” he shot back instantly.  “Why am I here?”

     “Ah, Yes. The bravery of a soldier. Bravery is by far the kindest word for stupidity, don’t you think?” John gave him a quelling look but refused to rise to the bait. John relished the small frown that appeared momentarily on the other man’s face before he continued. “I have a business opportunity for you.”

    John looked at him sceptically. “I’m a little old for recruitment into MI6, aren’t I?”

    “That was not quite what I had in mind,” the older alpha snorted. “What is your connection to Sherlock Holmes?”

     “You must be fucking kidding me.” John burst out incredulously.

      The man simply raised an eyebrow in response.

     “You’re serious right now?” John asked “You’re actually serious right now?”

     “I am, in fact, quite serious yes.” was the dry response.

      “I met him today. That’s it.” John folded his arms and leaned back into the seat.

     “And yet, you have already been solving murders together. Might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?” John wanted to punch the other alpha in the face.  That really hit a little too close to home.

      “Did you really abduct me just to ask about a man that I met for the first time this afternoon?” Was this what every day would be like if John decided to get involved with the younger omega?

     “I actually asked you here to offer you quite a lot of money.” The man responded with the slightest roll of his eyes.  He reached into his suit jacket to pull a folded slip of paper out of the breast pocket in a move that seemed eerily familiar to John. “I have a cheque here for twenty eight thousand pounds with your name on it. And I just need you to do one very small favour for me in return.”

     John started at him, completely unbelieving. “Who are you?”

     Fingers drummed on the handle of an old fashioned umbrella. “An interested party,” he answered eventually.

     “Interested in Sherlock? Why?” John looked critically at the man, “I’m guessing you’re not friends.”

     The alpha inclined his head slightly and smiled another bitter little smile. “You’ve met Sherlock. How many friends do you imagine he really has?”

     John narrowed his eyes at the man. How dare he talk about Sherlock that way? Sure, Sherlock was a little heavy on the drama, and his attitude could use some work, but he didn’t deserve this. “More than you might think.”

     “I am the closest thing to a friend that Sherlock Holmes is capable of having,” the man nearly hissed as he leaned forward slightly to look John in the eye, “an enemy.”

      John couldn’t help the low growl that emanated from his throat. Why was he letting this man affect him so much? “People don’t just have enemies.” 

     The man sat back again, and looked at John with interest in his eyes. “Well, if you were to ask him he would probably say his arch-enemy. He does love to be dramatic.”

     John looked pointedly around the car. “Well, thank God you’re above all of that then.”

    The man gave him a rather dark look. “Doctor Watson, let’s cut to the chase, shall we?”

     “That would be rather nice, yes.” John answered. “I was hoping to get home at some point before sunrise.”  When did his life become a bad spy movie?

     “Do you plan to continue your association with Sherlock Holmes?”

     John thought about it for a moment. Did he? Was the man really worth all of the trouble that he had gotten into today? “That’s really none of your business, is it?”

     “This cheque is yours, Doctor Watson,” the man continued “under the condition that you take Sherlock Holmes as your bondmate before 48 hours are up. You may then proceed to break all ties with him if you so wish; the money will still be yours.”

         John could feel the blood draining from his face before suddenly rising back up with the full force of his rage behind it. “Why.” John’s voice was calm and steady. He stared at the other alpha with a deceptively mild look on his face. If the man had known John at all during the time he was in Afghanistan, he would have had the driver pull over immediately to allow John out. As it was, he had no clue.

      “Because you are not a wealthy man, and this is an important favour.” The man responded with a dark look at John. “And you seem to be the best option available to me.”

     “Why?” John’s even voice did not betray the fact that he could feel the heat slipping through his veins as the anger spread through him like hot lava.

     “I worry about him constantly, and like it or not it appears that he’s set his hat on you.” John stared silently at the other alpha. Eventually he moved to continue speaking, “If twenty eight thousand is not suffic-“

     “NO.” John’s voice deepened to a gravely burr. “My answer is no.”

     “You’re very loyal, very quickly.” The man replied with a considering look on his face.

     “No, I’m just not interested.” John answered, fingers flexing against his knees. “You should let me out of the car now.”

     “We are not finished with our conversation.”  The man responded with a faint frown.

     “You should let me out of this car right now.” John growled.

     Just as the man opened his mouth to press the issue, his phone began to ring. Without breaking eye contact with John, he picked up the call. “Mycroft.”

     John saw Mycroft’s eyes widen slightly and a muscle begin to twitch in his jaw. “What do you mean you don’t know where he is?” His tone of voice before had been practically pleasant, compared to the venom dripping from the words he spat into the phone.

      John looked at the man with sharpened interest. Something was happening, something big.

     “I want every CCTV camera actively scanning for him now! Sherlock is officially our number one priority until he is located, ” he barked into the phone as he eyed John warily.

     John jerked forward immediately. “What happened to Sherlock?”

     Mycroft looked at John with an unfathomable look as he continued his call. “You have fifteen minutes to find him, or you will find yourself to be redundant.” The alpha hung up the phone with a flick of his wrist and placed it delicately back into his pocket.

     “Sherlock has been abducted. We will return you to your…home.”  Mycroft looked like that was the very last thing that he wanted to do.

     “Yes.” John agreed instantly. “I’ll need my gun.”

*****

     Sherlock woke up in the back of a moving vehicle. Judging from the rowdy conversation in the car, he wasn’t expected to gain consciousness anytime soon. Fortunately, the men hadn’t known that Sherlock had developed a high tolerance to any kind of sedative over the course of his life. Unfortunately, his resistance to the drug didn’t help with the rolling throb of the headache left behind.

     Sherlock worked to push the aching nausea to the back of his mind as he began to carefully inventory what he did and didn’t know. The fact that he had been abducted was obvious. He was tied securely; no amount of wiggling or trickery was able to loosen the rough hemp of the rope around his wrists or ankles. The radio was too loud to get any useful background information that would tell him where exactly he was, however, it was a local station so he was still firmly within London’s limits. That was good news at least. Occasionally one of the men mentioned ‘Sarah’ who was apparently the ringleader of this little abduction. Sherlock wracked his brain for any woman named Sarah, but he came up with nothing at all that might tie back to the predicament he found himself in.

     Roughly fifteen minutes after he woke up, the car stopped moving. Instantly Sherlock let himself fall limp, it was far better to maintain the illusion that he was still soundly unconscious. It did become rather difficult to maintain the deception when the hatch to the boot opened and he was dragged out of the car by his hair and dropped headfirst onto a hard concrete floor.

     His shoulder hit first, barely breaking the fall enough to prevent him from breaking his neck as his head slammed down next. The sickening crunch and instant radiating pain from his shoulder as he hit made his eyes pop open with a gasp. He bit firmly at his lip to hold back a whimper of pain; the shoulder was surely dislocated. Lights swum drunkenly in front of his eyes as he stared up at the brightly lit ceiling above him. He was at the bottom of some sort of loading dock, the car sitting at the edge of the platform above him. Sherlock squeezed his eyes shut tightly as he fought off the urge to pass out again. It would lead to nothing good, he was sure.

     “Well, hello there!” The voice was high and nearly screeching in an affectedly childish manner. The woman who walked up to Sherlock was slender and dressed to kill in a skin tight red dress. He bit back another groan as she poked him none too gently in the ribs with the toe of her high heeled boot.

     Sherlock refused to move, focusing on maintaining his breathing as he slowly adjusted to his situation. This was very not good. Sherlock hadn’t been caught like this in years, and at least last time he had known exactly why he was wanted dead.

     “Jamie, help Mr. Holmes into his seat.” The woman said as she tossed her short blonde curls over her shoulder with a huff. “Robert will be here soon, and I want everything ready.”

     “Yes ma’am.” Sherlock identified the voice as one of his captors before he was grabbed roughly by his arms and unceremoniously dragged to his feet. This time he couldn’t stop himself from slipping back into unconsciousness.

     When he woke up the second time, Sherlock was tied tightly to a hard backed chair with a blindfold tightly covering his eyes. His arm and head still throbbed but it was possible now to push it to the back of his mind and think. He forced himself to stay relaxed in the chair and attempted to gather what information he could about his surroundings. All he got in return was a low chuckle and the scent of an unfamiliar alpha.

     “That little trick won’t work on me, omega.” Sherlock felt a trailing hand tease across the back of his neck. “I know you’re awake.”

     Sherlock felt a shudder rip through his back as the unknown alpha rubbed his fingers on the unmarked scent glands hidden there. He forced himself to calm down before responding flatly. “Robert, I presume.”

     The trailing fingers continued their ministrations as the man gave another gravely laugh. “Still in top form I see. Good. That makes everything much more interesting, doesn’t it?” he asked, maintaining the almost lightly interested tone. You would think that they were discussing what to get for lunch, instead of why Sherlock had been drugged and kidnapped.

     “Things seem interesting enough already, actually.” Sherlock responded, fighting the urge to shift away from the hand at his neck. “To what do I owe the pleasure?

     “Why don’t you tell me Sherlock?” The blindfold loosened and slipped from Sherlock’s eyes with a whisper. Sherlock looked up at the dark haired man, taking in the coldness of the green eyes staring down at him. The hand at his neck was disturbingly tender with compared to an almost surprising amount of blind fury dancing in those eyes.  “Why do you think you are here?”

     Sherlock’s eyes took in every detail of Robert’s appearance, from the wrinkles at the cuff of his otherwise immaculate suit, to the flexing muscles in his jaw, to the redness surrounding the gold band around his finger. Shit. “Your mate.”

     “Just as perceptive as they make you out to be.” Robert said in satisfaction. He finally stepped back from the chair, removing his hand from Sherlock’s neck as he went. Sherlock drew air deep into his lungs, feeling almost as if he had been underwater in the too close presence of the alpha.  “My pregnant mate Samantha,” Robert continued after a pause, “who you had arrested today.”

     “The housekeeper,” Sherlock murmured to himself with dawning realization. He hadn’t actually met the woman, he remembered suddenly; he had put the case together from the crime scene and the information provided by Lestrade. He had had no idea that she was an omega, and certainly not that she was bonded and expecting.

      “Exactly.” the man smiled predatorily at Sherlock. 

     Yes, this was very not good indeed.

*****

     Since the call had come in, constant stream of data flowed into the speeding vehicle as they raced through the London streets. John’s refusal to be dismissed from the search rated a curious flick of the eyes from Mycroft, who had then dropped it immediately in favour of working out the logistics of the rescue. CCTV had picked up the abduction, but hadn’t managed to get anyone to Sherlock before he was stuffed unceremoniously into the back of an old blue Corsa. They had tracked the vehicle to an emptied warehouse near the docks where there were agents waiting on standby.

     John had learned more about the hidden inner workings of the English government in the last few minutes while listening to Mycroft bark orders over the phone than he had ever thought to know. However, he honestly couldn’t focus on the man, the orders, or the buildings flying by outside the window as they raced closer to Sherlock.

      All John could really think about as the blood rushed loudly in his ears and his fingers dug rigidly into his own knees, was how dare they. He didn’t spare a thought for the idea that he was reacting so strongly over an omega he had only met this afternoon. He ignored the narrow eyes and the heavy looks of the alpha across from him, who certainly wasn’t acting very much like an enemy at the moment. He even pushed away the voice in his mind raging for the gun that they didn’t have time to fetch. John was rigid with anger, barely containing it within himself at the thought that someone had been stupid enough to lay hands on Sherlock.

     After what may have been fifteen minutes or five hours for all John knew, Mycroft hung up the phone. “They have confirmed 6 hostiles within the warehouse, though we are not ruling out the possibility there may be more. We have established a visual on Sherlock, he is a bit worse for wear but he has regained consciousness.”

     “That doesn’t mean anything.” John’s voice felt rough in his throat as he spoke. “There could be any number of internal injuries.” Even the idea made the red pulsing behind his eyes speed up a little.

     The car was silent for several moments. John could again feel Mycroft studying him intently for a moment.  “Well then,” he eventually spoke up thoughtfully, “it’s a good thing we have a Doctor with us, isn’t it?”  

     John finally looked up at Mycroft, letting the fear and anger running through him fill his gaze momentarily as he dropped his blank mask to reveal a dangerous little smile. They locked gazes for only a moment before Mycroft let his eyes drop pointedly down to rest on the empty seat next to John. Neither alpha said anything more until they finally pulled silently up to the rendezvous point.

     The plan was an almost laughably simple one. The agents would move in and incapacitate the guards before moving on to the man and woman in the room with Sherlock. After the threat was eliminated, Mycroft would call in the clean-up crew and run interference while John would be able to care for any injuries that Sherlock had. In practice, it went a bit differently.

     John’s breath felt harsh as he crept behind Agents Henderson and Booth, silent but for the faintest sound of gravel beneath their feet. The last time he was on a mission like this, he had been sent home with a life altering bullet wound in his shoulder. He fought the rising nausea and forced himself away from memories of the war. He couldn’t let the past distract him from the present.

     Henderson hadn’t wanted to let him come in at all until the dust had settled, but with a few words from Mycroft she had backed down. John could feel the pressure of the gun they had handed him digging reassuringly into the small of his back; it wasn’t quite as familiar as the army issue hidden back in his bedsit, but it felt good to have.

     Agent Booth gestured for John to stay put as he and Henderson split up to take the four guards down.  The guards obviously didn’t expect any trouble; they were almost relaxed as they leaned against the rust covered railing with their backs to the lot behind them. Their joking laughter made John’s blood boil. How dare they sit here and joke around when they had delivered Sherlock to this place, with God knew what happening inside?

      The plan would have gone perfectly, if not for the woman in red’s appearance in the doorway just as Booth and Henderson moved in. Everything froze for a split second before all hell broke loose.  John couldn’t tell where she had been hiding the pistol in that tiny outfit, but she was obviously used to handling it without hesitation.

     The gun jerked to land on Booth as he grappled with one of the guards, and John couldn’t stop himself from moving forward. A moment later she was falling, clutching at a hole in her chest. She fired wildly towards him several times before losing her grip on the small gun.  John ran forward, kicking it away from her limp hand. Trusting that the two agents could handle the other men he moved quickly through the door towards Sherlock, gunshots echoing behind him.

     John pulled up short just inside the large room. Flattening himself behind the questionable safety of a few old metal barrels a few steps to the right of the door, he took in the brightly lit area in front of him. The blue car was parked off to the side, near several steep loading bays. Stacks of crates were piled around the edges of the room. But the main feature of interest was the small empty wooden chair lying on its side under a spotlight in the middle of everything, splashed with blood that reeked of orange and cloves.

*****

     Sherlock heard the gunshots outside and thanked every deity he could think of. Faintly he noticed an odd feeling of resentment that he needed someone to get him out of this situation, but it was pushed away by an overwhelming tidal wave of relief that they were finally here. Robert looked up with a mildly displeased frown, as if he had been interrupted while reading an interesting article in the paper rather than doing his level best to see exactly how much pain he could inflict on his prisoner without having the omega pass out on him again. Sherlock was fairly certain his nose was broken, blood dribbled down his face past his split lip. His body ached everywhere beneath bruises and cuts.   Apparently, both Robert and his mate shared a penchant for torture.

    Sherlock gasped as he was abruptly cut free of the ropes binding him to the chair. It crashed away behind him as he was dragged away from the door and into a dark corner, hidden behind a pile of haphazardly stacked crates. They had barely made it before the door burst open and the brightly lit outline of John Watson slipped inside.

    Sherlock made a noise low in his throat, trying desperately to alert John to his presence. The cold burn of the knife held tight on his neck had the small sound dying before it could reach his lips. His hands and feet were still tied securely, and Robert held him with enough experience that he knew he couldn’t get away from the knife in time to avoid having his jugular cut. He was helpless to do anything but watch between the crates as John stepped forward, moving deeper into the room.

     The man’s movements were like molten metal. Gone were the bumbling tells and nervous fidgets; John had lowered the deceivingly awkward shield he held up between himself and the world at large. Here was the soldier on a mission, the panther stalking its prey, the alpha hunting for its mate. He was fucking beautiful. Sherlock couldn’t take his eyes off of him.

     When John disappeared behind the barrels, Sherlock sucked in his breath. He wanted nothing more than to stand up and shout to John, to tell him that he was right here. As if sensing Sherlock’s thoughts, Robert leaned close to his ear. “If you make a single noise, I will make sure you’re nothing but a bloody puddle with a body in the middle before he can even cross this room.” The alpha’s rank scent curled around Sherlock, and again he begun to feel like he was drowning in unpleasantness as Robert’s lips brushed along Sherlock’s neck.

     Sherlock, as it turns out, didn’t have to say anything at all. John stood suddenly out in the open, moving forward with those smooth, predatory movements as he made his way towards the centre of the room, gun clasped firmly in hand.

     “I know you’re still here.” Even his voice was slightly different, cold steel under a deep growl that somehow carried all the way to their hidden corner despite the fact that he had barely raised his voice over the sound of the gunshots still distant in the background. “There’s nowhere for you to go.”

     Robert stiffened behind him. Sherlock could feel him debating whether it would be better to stay hidden and maintain the slim advantage of what surprise he had left, or to come out now and square off in an attempt to bargain his way out of the room. Sherlock froze utterly still, holding even his breath until finally Robert grabbed Sherlock’s injured arm and dragged him up and into the light.

     

Chapter Text

     John clenched his teeth as a tall man with blonde hair stepped out from behind the shelter of the crates. He was taller than Sherlock, and more muscular. He certainly didn’t seem to have any problem pulling the bloodied man in front of him like a human shield.

     It took every shred of will power John had not to immediately run across the floor and rip him away from Sherlock with his bare hands.  His inner alpha was screaming in rage as he took in the sight of the omega, cataloguing the obvious injuries and the almost professional grip of the man holding him.

     “Let him go.”

     The other alpha’s laugh was grating. “That would be quite stupid of me, wouldn’t it?” He taunted John, digging the knife a little deeper into Sherlock’s skin and drawing a few fresh drops of blood. “This little bitch cost me my mate, and my pup. He’s lucky to still be breathing at all.”

     Shit. This wasn’t good.  The tight grip on his arms and the knife at his neck didn’t leave Sherlock much room to manoeuvre, and he was pressed too close to the alpha for John to get a good shot in. As he considered his plan of attack John realized that Sherlock’s lips were moving.  What was he trying to say? John fought to keep his eyes focused on the threat of the alpha. He needed to decipher Sherlock’s signals without drawing attention to the fact that he was trying to communicate.

     Apparently tired of waiting for John to say something, the other alpha continued his taunts. “He has a stubborn streak, but I think with a little more time I could break him. Maybe I won’t kill him. Maybe I’ll just kill you and take him with me.” Carefully keeping his eyes on John, he leaned his face in close to Sherlock’s neck and brushed his lips across the sensitive skin there. John could see the shudder that raced through Sherlock’s body at the unwelcome contact. “He could keep me company since he cost me my mate. I do get lonely.”

     John’s rumbling snarl ripped out of his throat. “Let him go now, and I might let you live long enough to regret that.” Distantly, another part of him realized that the omega was counting. Sherlock was counting down, but why?

     “I think that your options are rather more limited than that,” the man snapped. With a sudden pull he jerked up Sherlock’s injured arm causing him to yell out in pain and desperately try to shift his balance to avoid falling forward into the blade with the weight of his own body.  “You are going to put the gun down. You are going to notify whoever is with you that I am not to be touched. You are going to back far far away from the car, and you are going to let me drive away. If you do everything with a pretty smile on your face, I might let your little slut go.”

      John watched as Sherlock gathered himself, and resumed counting down from here he had left off before the attack, he was nearly to zero and whatever he had planned, John needed to be ready.

     “If you think that plan would work, you really are stupid.” John growled. “Release him; this is your final warning.” John was practically vibrating with anger. He could feel it rolling through him like high tide pushing unto the beach, with every passing second he came closer to letting his fury pull him under. He fought it, reaching deep into himself to find that cool calm centre. It wouldn’t help Sherlock to have him descend into a haze, not now with the man’s knife pressing so close to his omega’s fragile throat.

     Something sparked in the alpha’s eyes at his words. With a bitter scoff he shifted the pull in Sherlock’s body, tilting him backwards as if to let him fall. “Well, if I’m going down, I might as well take him with me.”

     Several things happened simultaneously. Sherlock reached zero just as the alpha’s hand tensed on the knife. Letting himself go limp for a moment, Sherlock forced the man to adjust his grip to keep him upright. While the alpha was still off balance, he pushed up in a sudden violent jerk, snapping his head back to break the man’s nose. The sudden pain caused the alpha’s hand to instinctively loosen the grip of the knife around Sherlock’s neck. 

     Sherlock threw himself to the side, leaving a perfect opening for John. John took the suddenly clear shot as Sherlock’s body hit the ground, head banging hard onto the concrete. The sound of the gun going off was almost painful as it echoed around the large room. John darted forward with a yell, barely sparing a thought for the alpha on the ground with the hole in his head. He grabbed the unconscious Sherlock, pulling him quickly away from the body.

     Sherlock was bleeding from a wound on his neck, the fresh new blood mingling with the old that still painted his skin. In that moment, John would have happily brought the alpha back to life just to kill him more slowly. John ripped off his shirt, using the absorbent fabric to press against the wound, trying desperately to stop the bleeding.

     The part of his mind that belonged to the soldier, well trained on the battlefield, knew that the angles of the cut and the lack of arterial spray meant that nothing critical had been severed. The doctor in him knew that as long as his jugular and trachea were intact, he had every possibility of surviving this with quick medical care. The other part, the darker and more instinctive part, just saw Sherlock lying on a cold and dirty concrete floor, bleeding out at his feet.

*****

     “Sir, we have a situation in the warehouse.” Henderson’s voice over the radio was clipped.

Through the sudden spike of anxiety, Mycroft was careful to keep his voice cool and even. “Elaborate.” He could feel his heart beating a little faster as every possible scenario ran through his mind.

“It’s the alpha, Sir. He’s gone into a haze. We can’t get close enough to see what’s going on.”

“The hostile alpha?” Mycroft asked, knitting his brow as he thought through the possible protocols. “Do we have visual on Sherlock? Where is John?”

“You misunderstand.” The woman paused before continuing, obviously trying to put together the best way to explain the situation. “The hostile has been removed. Sherlock appears unconscious but we are unable to get close enough to see the extent of his injuries. Every time we try, John lashes out. We can’t get through the alpha haze to reason with him.”

     Mycroft pressed his lips together as he mulled over the information. He had allowed John to go in with the team on a whim, more curious to see how he would react than anything. He had trusted the man’s training with the army to keep him in line, and this was unexpected. “Does he appear to be a threat?”

     “I’m not sure that threat is the right word, Sir.” The woman answered firmly. “He’s protecting the target, and is aggressive when we try to approach; otherwise he is not violent.”

     Mycroft thought only for a moment before giving the order. “Authorize procedure 34-A, Nonlethal.”

      “Right away sir.”  And the woman was gone.

     Mycroft sat back in in the seat of his car. He spent a moment staring into the middle distance before closing his eyes and allowing himself to slip into his mind palace.

     After walking for a moment through the familiar halls, he entered the study. Reaching up, he chose a slim book with the name John Watson on the cover. It was a recent addition to his library, and apparently much of the information in this book was wrong.  Paging through, he viewed the various reports he had gathered over the last several hours.

     Words sprang out to him, ‘commitment issues’, ‘meek for an alpha’, ‘pliable’. Mycroft closed the book with a snort, studying the cover as he considered his next move. John Watson was certainly a surprise, and Mycroft was not overly fond of surprises. After a moment, he tossed the book into the brightly burning fireplace.

      Opening his eyes, Mycroft reached into his pocket and picked up the phone to call Anthea. There were arrangements to make, and plans to change.

*****

     The light was blinding.

     For a moment Sherlock felt the pain in his throat, saw the brightness of the light in front of his eyes, and knew that he was dead.  Then there was a face hovering over him. An angel, his addled mind supplied in the split second before he registered the scent of cedar and bergamot. Suddenly, everything snapped into focus around him.

     “John.”  Sherlock’s voice was rough and low; he ached everywhere. He was surrounded by the gentle beeping of the machines but didn’t seem to be connected to any of them. There was an IV pole sitting abandoned by the bed and a piece of surgical tape and cotton on the back of his hand where it had recently been attached.  He was in a hospital. They had gotten him out of the warehouse. “What are you doing here?”

     “I’ve been here since I woke up.” John rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “Apparently, I went into a haze when you went down. There was a lot of blood. I thought you were dying.” He looked away. “They had to shoot me with a tranquilizer dart. When I woke up, we were already in here together.”

     Sherlock looked past John and his immediate surroundings to observe the rest of the small room. It was obviously a private facility. The early morning light streaming over his bed hit warm cream coloured walls, and the tastefully understated décor screamed ‘money’.

     There was another bed in the room, blankets askew, but the slightly darker patch of wall between the beds and the lack of second side table indicated that it had been added to what would typically be a private room. They must have added the bed for John, likely worried that he would go into another haze if he woke up separated from Sherlock after everything that had happened.

     “How did you find me?”  Sherlock suspected from his surroundings that he already knew the answer to that question.

     John snorted, absently rubbing his fingers across Sherlock’s wrist. Sherlock was momentarily distracted, wondering if the alpha realized he was doing it. “A posh git in a big car picked me up and offered me 28 thousand pounds to bond with you.”

     Sherlock jerked upright with an indignant gasp before he even realized he had moved. “He did what?!”

     John was up in second, hands on Sherlock’s shoulders. “Lay down Sherlock!” The alpha hissed, pressing him back into the mattress. “Omega healing or not, you are still injured!”

     “One does not enter a knife fight without expecting to be cut John. I’m fine, it’s a surface wound.” Sherlock dismissed, staring at the alpha with narrowed eyes. “Now what did he do?”

     John refused to be distracted. “You’re still bruised all to hell, your arm was badly dislocated, and your bloody neck was slit!” John nearly yelled before taking a breath to steady his nerves. “Not to mention the fact that you’ve only just now woken up. That’s a fair sight more than a surface wound.”  John reached beside the bed and pressed the button to raise Sherlock slowly up into a sitting position, ignoring the omega’s huff and rolled eyes.

     “I knew what I was doing John. He barely broke the skin. Look, it didn’t even need stitches and it’s almost gone now.” Sherlock raised his head to show the thin red line, determined to prove his point. “Some of the other cuts are healed entirely. My arm doesn’t even hurt!” Sherlock began to wave his previously injured arm around. “I’m fine!”

     John leaned forward to grab Sherlock’s face between his hands. “Stop it.” He nearly begged; voice a guttural whisper, shocking Sherlock into stillness with the intensity of emotion behind his eyes. “Please. I know that you’re going to be fine. I’m grateful that by some grace of God you weren’t more seriously hurt; but every time I close my eyes I see you lying bloody on the ground. Please stop and lay back in the damn bed.”

     Sherlock stared at John blankly for a moment, realizing that he hadn’t properly looked at the alpha since he woke up. John looked like he hadn’t slept in days. Stress was written in the dark circles around his eyes.  Even his hair was mussed on the sides and sticking up at odd angles, as if he had been running his hands through it. John was wearing a fresh shirt; however he was still wearing the same trousers from before. The fabric was wrinkled and stained here and there with Sherlock’s blood.

     Finally with a small huff Sherlock pulled back to lean against the bed, guilt chewing at his stomach. He hadn’t realized that John would be so worried. Why should he have been? “Fine.”  Sherlock looked away, worrying the tender underside of his lip slightly before continuing, “I’m sorry that you were in that situation. It was entirely my fault.”

     “Well that’s not totally fair, little brother.” A coolly amused voice spoke up from the doorway before John had a chance to answer. Sherlock jumped at the unexpected interruption, cursing silently to himself for missing the sound of the door opening. “You were abducted, after all.”

     “It seems like Robert wasn’t the only one trying his hand at kidnapping last night, Mycroft.” Sherlock responded with practiced ease and narrowed eyes despite his inner turmoil. “Pray tell, what precisely did you hope to accomplish?”

     “Wait just a second.” John broke in, eyeballing Mycroft. “Sherlock is your brother then? After all of that toss about enemies, and arch enemies, you’re just his big brother?”

     “Mmm.” Mycroft hummed, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet as he leaned against his umbrella. “I would rather like to think that I’m a bit more than ‘just’ his older brother Doctor Watson. At the moment, I’m his legal guardian and alpha as well.”

     John snorted, “Right. That rather does explain a lot.”

     “Mycroft is one of the most dangerous men you will ever meet, John.” Sherlock supplied with a scoff and a dismissive gesture of his hand. “He’s also never been particularly good at keeping his rather large nose in his own business.”

     “A trait that has served me well in the past brother mine.” Mycroft pointed out mildly. “And you as well, if I recall.”

     “The only thing I needed from you, Mycroft, was a certain bit of legislature repealed. As you seem to have been unable to do so, I have taken matters into my own hands.” Sherlock glanced significantly towards John, who was watching the conversation play out with a slightly bemused interest. “Your interference was unnecessary.”

     “Yes,” Mycroft acknowledged with a slight bow of his head. “I have come to realize that.” He turned to John with a slightly bemused look on his face; the type of look that one might give a particularly unusual or grotesque insect. “Doctor Watson, I do sincerely apologise for any misunderstanding.”

     Sherlock glared at the older man’s slightly mocking tone, but John either didn’t notice or ignored it entirely as he responded. “No harm done.” His words were mild and his smile bright, but something in the way he was holding himself indicated that he was not quite as sincere as he appeared. “If you hadn’t picked me up, after all, then I might have missed out on the rescue,” he paused a moment before continuing, “But also getting shot of course- for the second time I may add.”

      Mycroft’s answering smile was sharp. “What a tragedy that would have been.”

       Stiff silence descended on the room until a shrill ringing broke through. Mycroft’s hand instantly went to his pocket and pulled out the mobile nestled there. After a glance at the screen he tucked it away. “I’m afraid that I must run. I wanted to take some time to check on you, but duty calls. There’s a bit of an uprising in Egypt; you understand of course.”

      “Of course.” Sherlock’s voice was dry. “How would they ever know what to do without you there to pull on their strings?”

     Mycroft brushed away the barb with obvious ease as he turned to John. “I look forward to speaking with you again soon, Doctor Watson.” Mycroft gave the other man a small, mocking bow before turning to exit the room.

     However, just as he stepped through the door he shot a last knowing look at Sherlock. “Oh, I nearly forgot.  As to your earlier statement, your little adventure wasn’t last night brother mine. It was the night before.” And with a swish of his coat, Mycroft was gone.

*****

     The colour leeching out of Sherlock’s face had John reaching forward, half expecting the younger omega to pass out again. “Steady,” he patted Sherlock’s hand awkwardly as it clenched the sheet above his thigh. “Just breathe for me, yeah?”

     After a few breaths, John watched as Sherlock’s careful mask slipped back over his features. Sherlock cleared his throat and a pale blush rose to his cheeks. “Sorry about that; I’m not really sure what came over me.”  He looked away. John took his cue to back away from the bed and begin to inspect a rather interesting lamp near his own bed.

     “No, don’t worry about it.” John looked at the younger man through the corner of his eye. Sherlock was staring at his lap, face still carefully blank.  He looked almost calm, if you could ignore the tension radiating from his shoulders and the harsh grip of his fingers buried in the sheets. “I understand.”

     “Do you really?” Sherlock asked. John could feel the man’s gaze, heavy on the side of his head.

     Turning back to Sherlock, John gave a small smile and sat quietly on the side of his own bed. “Yeah.”

     They sat quietly for a few minutes, each taking careful measure of the other, and unwilling to break the silence.  Eventually, Sherlock licked his lips and continued. “So, Mycroft offered you money to bond with me?”

     John hummed slightly before answering, “Yeah.” When Sherlock didn’t respond he rubbed awkwardly at the back of his head and continued. “It was something along the lines of he would give me 28 thousand pounds to bond you and then fuck off.”

     “I take it that you turned him down,” Sherlock asked, voice stilted.

     “Of course I did.” John snorted. “I couldn’t believe that he had even thought that I would agree to that.” John watched as Sherlock winced slightly at his words. “He seemed under the impression that that was the only way someone would agree to bond with you.”

     “Pity.” Sherlock responded after a few quiet moments. He was looking away again, seemingly fascinated by a rather ugly painting of a pastoral scene hanging on the wall. “We could have split the fee.”

     John sighed, trying to figure out how to approach the subject. He wasn’t good at these things. He never had been one to sit down and just have a conversation about things; it was probably the reason that ‘Three Continents Watson’ had never managed to have any kind of significant relationship past a few casual dates.

     “I woke up yesterday afternoon, right here in this bed.” He started haltingly. Suddenly it was his turn to stare resolutely at the ugly picture as Sherlock turned to stare at him. “I woke up and before I even opened my eyes the first thing I thought, the very first thing, was how bloody stupid I was.”

     John couldn’t just sit here and do this, knowing that Sherlock was watching. He stood up and began to pace as he spoke, using the careful steps to keep time- to keep his nerve. “I haven’t done anything but pine for a pack since I came back from the war. Then here I was, just going about my life, trying to avoid biting a bullet for at least one more day when a perfect opportunity fell into my lap.”

     John looked up at Sherlock, who was still sitting there with an unreadable expression on his face. “Sherlock, I wasn’t looking for you that day. I didn’t see any way out without the committee, and the committee wasn’t somewhere I was willing to look. You walked up to me and you were amazing. Brilliant and perfect even with that damn riding crop. Then we went out and- we solved it Sherlock! We solved a murder together.” John couldn’t stop the incredulous laugh that escaped from his lips. “I haven’t felt alive like that since… since I don’t even know when, and you did that for me.”

     Sherlock opened his mouth to say something but John held up a hand. “Please, let me finish. If I don’t say it now I might not say it at all.” At Sherlock’s reluctant nod, John looked away and began to speak again. “There was a connection there. I could feel it. Then we sat down in that damn restaurant, and I panicked. You said you didn’t want me, and you said that you did. I didn’t know what to say, and so I pushed you away. I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry that I ever let you walk out of there, because I pushed you away and you ended up alone in a warehouse with that sadistic bastard.” John stopped for a moment in an attempt to gather himself; squeezing his eyes shut as he thought of the crumpled body on the cold and dirty floor of that warehouse. “I laid there and I thought about the fact that I could have had a pack -a bondmate- but I said no, and now it was too late.”

     John looked up at Sherlock then, taking in the lines of his face and the piercing gaze as the omega studied him in return. John offered up a small smile and tilted his head towards the other man. “Then I did open my eyes. I opened my eyes and I turned my head and I saw you laying right there in that bed. You looked beat all to hell, but Sherlock, you weren’t dead. I was so happy, so relieved, so overwhelmed with gratitude that I couldn’t even move. All I could do was stare at you and promise myself that I wouldn’t be so bloody stupid a second time.”

*****

      Sherlock was having trouble breathing as he stared at John. The play of emotions across his face as he told his story was so honest, so open and unguarded that Sherlock didn’t quite know how to react. Everything about John was so far from the stereotypical alpha that Sherlock had never wanted, but at the same time he knew that John could be that person if Sherlock actually needed him to. As John finished he sat quietly back on his bed, letting Sherlock’s eyes roam over him as the words sank in. Sherlock pressed his lips together briefly before saying the only thing that he could think to say. “Come here.”

     John’s eyes widened slightly, but he didn’t move. He looked frozen in place.

     “John, come here. Please.”  Sherlock reached his hand towards the other man, apparently breaking the spell as John jumped up and walked to the bed. Sherlock reached for his hand and used it to pull John closer still, until he was all but in the bed with Sherlock. Barely a handbreadth was between them when Sherlock whispered “Thank you,” Sherlock licked his lips nervously. “Thank you for everything.” Tentatively, he pushed himself up to gently press his lips against the alpha’s.

     For a heartbeat nothing happened and Sherlock started to pull away in embarrassment, wondering how he could have read the man so wrongly. Suddenly there were hands running through his hair and pulling him closer as John returned the kiss with a low growl. John was careful of the still healing bruises and cuts even as he moved forward and firmly took charge of the kiss, pulling Sherlock deeper into the sensation of their mouths moving together.

     Sherlock moaned as John moved away from his lips, slowly nibbling his way down his neck to the sensitive glands hidden at its base. As John kissed and nipped at the delicate skin there Sherlock found himself leaning forward, pushing into the pressure of John’s teeth with a needy whimper.

     Suddenly John pulled away with a muffled curse leaving Sherlock gasping a protest behind him. John’s voice was low and rough as he responded. “We are not doing this here.”

      Sherlock’s eyes cleared slowly as he came back to himself. He could feel his breath coming fast and an odd ache between his legs as he whined lightly at the sudden loss of contact. John didn’t look any better off, flushed and with pupils blown wide open as he knelt over Sherlock.  He made no effort to hide the obvious bulge in his pants as he looked down at where the omega lay in the hospital bed.

     Mortification hit Sherlock as he realized what had almost happened and he pulled sharply back against the mattress. “Sorry.” He murmured, looking away as he felt his face begin to burn violently. “I didn’t quite think that through.”

     The sudden bark of John’s genuine laugh made him jump. “Don’t worry about it. I’m sorry, I almost let things get out of control there for a minute.” John looked at him with obvious amusement. “I admit though, that it might have been worth it to see you blush like that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone turn that particular shade of cherry red.”

     Sherlock narrowed his eyes with at the man with a huff even as he appreciated John’s attempt to dispel the sudden awkwardness between them. “I don’t find it particularly amusing.”

     “You wouldn’t.” John agreed fondly as he crawled off of the bed. Funny, Sherlock didn’t remember when John had gone from the floor to literally being on top of him.

     John straightened his clothes and turned to the door. “Where are you going?” Sherlock asked incredulously. Surely he wasn’t just going to leave after that?

     The grin that John shot back at the bed was almost wolfish. “First, I’m going to find a doctor, and then we are going to get you discharged.” John paused, and tilted his head curiously at Sherlock. “That is, if that sounds good to you?”

     Sherlock’s eyes widened slowly as he realized what John was really asking. “Well, we are working with a deadline after all,” he offered with a smile.

     “Exactly.” John responded with another small laugh before turning and walking out of the room, humming to himself as he went.

Chapter Text

     In the end, the doctors released Sherlock with a bare minimum of fuss. Within a quarter of an hour they were being escorted out of the building by a smiling orderly. John wondered what exactly Mycroft had told them; he certainly wouldn’t have wanted to release someone who had only just woken up from a concussion.

     Sherlock’s mumbling protests about being confined to a wheelchair were thoroughly ignored as he was wheeled outside to the black car waiting for them. Obviously, Mycroft had known that Sherlock would have wanted to spend as little time in the hospital as possible once he woke up and had made the arrangements in advance.

     John couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the glowering omega as they finally allowed him to climb into the car. “Its policy Sherlock; they have rules you know.”

     “There is nothing wrong with my legs. Besides, if they can’t even trust me to be able to walk to the car on my own then why would they discharge me at all?”

     John raised an eyebrow as he looked incredulously at the other man. “Is that really the argument you want to go with here?”

     “They are releasing me into the care of a private doctor.” Sherlock pointed out archly as he settled comfortably into the back seat. “You are meant to be taking care of me. Making sure I don’t suddenly bleed out and such. I’m hardly without medical assistance” John suspected that even without a ‘private doctor’ Sherlock wouldn’t have been content to wait to be released from the ward.

     However, something about the idea that he was there to take care of Sherlock, that Sherlock was indeed released solely into his care, was immensely satisfying to the alpha. “Well, I certainly wouldn’t let anything happen to you.” He finally answered.  Sherlock looked up at him, head cocked as he stared piercingly at John; it almost seemed as if he were trying to gauge the accuracy of that statement. Finally he accepted it with a nod, and turned to look out of the window.

     The scent of oranges and cloves was intoxicating in the closed confines of the car, nearly making John’s head spin as he sat near the omega. Not nearly close enough, some part of himself insisted forcefully, but John pushed the thought away firmly. He wasn’t going to spook Sherlock by attacking him the moment that they were alone.

     An awkward silence descended heavily on the car as it began to move. After everything said already, neither man knew what to say as the vehicle began to roll slowly through the city. John was struck with the realization that for the most part, Sherlock was still a mystery to him. It was strange, John felt as if he had known the omega for weeks or months, certainly much longer than the handful of hours that had actually passed.

    Eventually, John realized that Sherlock would never break the stiff tension between them. Casting about for a safe topic of conversation, he realized that the buildings surrounding them were largely unfamiliar. “Where are we going?” He didn’t miss how Sherlock startled slightly, as if he had forgotten there was anyone else in the car at all. 

     “Based on the general direction of the car, we are on the way to one of Mycroft’s safe houses.” Disdain dripped from Sherlock’s voice as he gestured through the window. “How kind of him not to ask first”

     “Well,” John mused as he peered through the glass. “I‘m sure we could always ask the driver to take us somewhere else.” John couldn’t really think of anywhere in particular they should go. He didn’t know Sherlock’s situation but the halfway house was the last place they needed to be.

     “Doubtful.” Sherlock responded with a snort and a toss of his head as he crossed his arms and slid down the seat in an obvious sulk. “Mycroft’s people are generally annoyingly loyal. He will take us wherever Mycroft wants us, and that’s it.”

     “Did you have somewhere specific in mind? We could get out, get a taxi or something. I want you to be comfortable.”

     Sherlock was silent for a few moments as he stared into the middle distance. If John hadn’t been watching carefully, he would have thought that the man was ignoring him completely. The way he was worrying his lip ever so slightly with his teeth gave him away. “No.” Sherlock finally admitted as he stretched his legs out in front of him with a slightly weary sigh. “Not really. My apartment isn’t exactly… conductive to going into a heat. And I have very little desire to go back to whatever government bedsit they set you up in. The walls would be far too thin for one, and I don’t particularly want to drive everyone out of the building.” John suppressed a smile at the very faint slight pinkness that brushed across Sherlock’s cheeks, even as his voice and general demeanour suggested that he really couldn’t care less. “I suspect that wherever Mycroft is sending us will already be prepared with anything we could ever possibly need, and more besides.”

     “It’s up to you.” John looked closely at Sherlock. The other man turned his face away, opting to stare out of the window instead. When Sherlock didn’t respond John nudged his leg gently with a booted foot. “What are you thinking right now?”

     That finally got a reaction. Sherlock turned to John with a raised eyebrow. “Why would that possibly be of interest to you?”

     “Why not?” John allowed a small smile onto his face ad he looked at the taller man. “If we are going to be bondmates, then I want to know everything about you.” He reached out to tug lightly at a lock of dark curly hair. “That includes whatever is going though that big brain of yours.”

     Sherlock’s eyes darkened slightly as his gaze dug into the alpha. “I don’t think that’s a good idea John.” He eventually responded. “You might not like everything you find out.”

     “Nobody’s perfect.” John pointed out with a shrug. After a moment, he slid across the seat until his leg was brushing against the younger omega’s. “There are going to be things about me that you don’t like either. It’s better to just accept that from the start.” Sherlock’s lips pursed briefly, before he turned away again, but he left his leg to rest gently against John’s.

     “There are several things I suppose. Mycroft, Robert, the case.” He listed mechanically. He stopped for several moments before hesitantly continuing. “And I might say that I’m slightly uneasy about what’s going to happen. I never expected to be doing this.”

     Something about the way he said those words set John on edge. “Doing this as in actually being bonded, or the rest of it?”  He suspected he already knew the answer.

     “I am largely unexperienced in the realm of physical intimacy. Historically I have very little desire to experience sexual relations.” Sherlock responded flatly, still refusing to look at John. After a few moments where John stared blankly at the omega, completely unable to think of what to say, Sherlock did continue thoughtfully. “Based on my earlier experiment in the hospital room, it shouldn’t prove to be an undue hardship.”

     “An undue hardship?”  John felt something in his chest twinge slightly. “Is that how you feel then?”

     A look of faint confusion passed over Sherlock’s face as he registered the odd tone of John’s voice. “Maybe that wasn’t the best phrasing.” Sherlock allowed. Sherlock reached a hand to awkwardly pat his leg. “I found it to be quite pleasurable.” John felt slightly better, but not by much.

      “Right.” John leaned back in his seat, and wondered how much of the thought was sincere and how much was just trying to reassure him so he wouldn’t change his mind. “Can I be honest about something?”

     “Of course John,” Sherlock’s answer was immediate. “It is important that we are always honest with each other.”

     “Right. Good.” John’s fingers rubbed absently at the cuff of his too long sleeve as he tried to figure out how exactly to ask the question on his mind. “Do you really want to do this?”

     “Do what, exactly?” Sherlock drew up stiffly to glare at John, hands dropping to grip at his knees with white knuckled force. “Make my own informed decisions? I’m not a child.” Sherlock’s voice was almost poisonous in its intensity.

       “No!” John sputtered, releasing his sleeve as he jerked to look at Sherlock. “That’s not what I’m saying at all! I just, well, I want you to know that you have other options. I would help you if you decided you wanted to...” John paused for a moment, wracking his mind to explain exactly what he was trying to say. “If you wanted to do something else.”

     Sherlock’s fingers began drumming against his knee in a complicated pattern that John couldn’t quite follow as he looked critically at the alpha. “What precisely are you suggesting I do? Run? Would you really help me leave if I decided right now that I had changed my mind? That I didn’t want to bond with you? After everything that’s happened between us already, would you let me go?”

     “Absolutely.” John’s spoke instantly; he didn’t even need to think about it.

     At Sherlock’s decidedly sceptical look John turned his entire body to the omega. John leaned forward

to grasp Sherlock by the shoulders; desperately trying to show the other man how serious he was about this.  “Sherlock, if we were already in bed with my teeth on your neck and you changed your mind, I would stop. I would help you however I could, even if that meant helping you leave. I swear.”

     “Even if it means that you stay alone?” Sherlock asked flatly.

     John blinked slowly. “How could someone so brilliant- Yes, Sherlock, that is exactly what I just said. Even if it meant I wouldn’t see you again and I would never have a bondmate at all, I would not hesitate; not for one second.”

     For the first time since John had met him, Sherlock seemed honestly at a loss for words; the omega simply sat, staring wide eyed at the alpha in front of him.

*****

     Sherlock’s mind was moving hundreds of miles a minute. As soon as a thought formed he was already moving on to the next one as he tried to fit the puzzle together.  Who was John Watson? Where had he come from? Sherlock could read the obvious bits clearly enough, but what exactly had made him who he was? Sherlock was suddenly desperate to know what made John Watson so captivatingly different from other alphas he had known. Sherlock wanted all of his secrets, wanted to take the man apart and see how the pieces fit together.

     He could be lying, some distant part of his mind whispered, sounding suspiciously like his brother’s taunting voice. Sherlock dismissed the possibility instantly. John Watson was an honourable man; of that he had no doubt. If John said that he would stop, he would stop. That was one of the most alluring thoughts that Sherlock had ever had, he realized suddenly. He could do this. No, he corrected himself; he wanted to do this.

     Sherlock needed to see what all of the fuss was about. He had never wanted to give up his hard earned control to an alpha; it was the primary reason that he found the idea of bonding distasteful in general. This was something else entirely. A tendril of heat wound through his stomach where before he had felt only the light jittering of his nerves. 

     On a sudden impulse Sherlock leaned forward to crush his lips to the shorter mans. This time it didn’t seem to shock the man; with a rumbling growl that Sherlock could feel against his lips, John returned the kiss. As their mouths moved over each other, Sherlock let himself float in the sensation of being thoroughly kissed. Trails of tingling electricity danced across Sherlock’s scalp as John reached up to card his fingers through the dark curls.

     Sherlock’s hands raked across John’s back, feeling the tautness of the muscles rippling below his fingertips. John’s lips danced over his as the alpha’s arms pulled him closer, moulding their bodies to each other like they had been made for each other. The cool shock of the leather against his neck as John pushed him back against the seat of the car made him whimper slightly. John effortlessly swung his body over to cover Sherlock’s as he deepened the kiss.

     Sherlock was burning up. He could feel John’s fingers, one hand still playing with his hair even as the other trailed down his side and worked its way under his shirt. John’s fingers brushing against his ribs had him arching up against the alpha, the unfamiliar sensation almost too much for his already sensitive body to process.

     “Christ.” John’s voice was rough as he finally broke away, leaving the omega panting beneath him. “We need to stop ending up like this.”

     “I don’t see why.” Sherlock responded, desperately trying to recapture some of the cool indifference that usually came so easily to him as he panted slightly. He found himself mesmerized by the way John’s eyes had darkened in colour as the blown out pupils stared down at him. “You enjoy it. I enjoy it.”

     “I don’t think that you really want to go into a heat in your brother’s car, in the middle of London, where anyone could see” John pointed out with a low chuckle as he allowed his forehead to rest against Sherlock’s shoulder. After a few moments to gather himself, he awkwardly crawled off of Sherlock and settled back into his own seat. Sherlock decided that he found it extremely attractive when John was flustered.

     “The windows are privacy glass.” Sherlock dismissed with a scoff, even as he pushed himself back up in his seat and straightened his newly rumpled suit. “Someone could press their face to them and still not be able to see inside.” What was I thinking? Sherlock brushed roughly at an imaginary bit of fluff on his sleeve as he pulled himself back together. I’m acting ridiculous, he chided himself.  

     John’s low chuckle was like molten chocolate dripping down his back; Sherlock looked up to meet rich blue eyes danced with a mixture of amusement and lingering lust. Sherlock’s heart sped up slightly in his chest. “It would still be rather obvious, and you know it.” John reached up to run his fingers along Sherlock’s jaw. “It’s probably a bit better to wait until we get to somewhere a little more private.” 

     “Perhaps.” Sherlock allowed with a slight nod. “We are nearly there in any case.” His mind, usually spinning so quickly in so many different directions seemed suddenly focused on exactly how much time it was going to take to get to the safe house.

     The thought brought him up short. Somehow in the last three days the idea of bonding had gone from a vague distaste at the thought of some shadowy unknown alpha to interest or even excitement at the idea of bonding with John.  It was an unexpected turn, at the very least.

     “I do, you know.” Sherlock spoke up impulsively. He reached out to lightly grip John’s hand as he stared ahead with a slight frown. If he looked over now he would never finish. “Trust you, I mean.”

     Sherlock could feel the smile against his skin as John pulled his hand up between them, pressing a gentle kiss against his knuckles. “Thank you.”

     They rode in easy silence for the rest of the trip, hands still clasped tightly between them.

*****

     John was content to let Sherlock sit quietly beside him with the warmth of their held hands to fill in what words couldn’t. In the companionable silence, so different from the heavy tension before, John occupied himself by studying the omega.

     Everything from Sherlock’s dark curls to the long tapered fingers of his hand, was uniquely interesting to John. The alpha had had been with his share of people, omega and beta alike, but never had someone commandeered his senses like Sherlock. He really should have suspected something sooner; the man had captured him entirely the moment he had stalked up, riding crop in hand, and asked John where he had served. The omega’s brilliance was incandescent, and John was a moth drawn to the flame.

     John felt a sharp tingle along his spine when the car finally slid to a halt outside of an impressive townhouse. “So this is the safe house then? Not quite what I had expected.” The house was large and covered in frothy decoration with a flower filled garden surrounding its walls. It looked more like something John’s grandmother might have coveted than any kind of government bolthole.

     “What were you expecting then?” Sherlock was cool again John noted with interest. What precisely had brought that on? “Some dank hovel in the back of a dark alley, perhaps?”

     “Something like that.” John agreed; though in truth he had figured on something like the bedsit, perhaps slightly larger and with better security.

     Sherlock didn’t bother to respond as he exited the car and began to stride up the sidewalk. With a sigh and a roll of his eyes, John climbed out behind him. The door was unlocked, which surprised John. Maybe it shouldn’t have, he figured. The man who abducted him off of the streets to ask his intentions would certainly have the house under constant surveillance. The idea made his skin tingle slightly as he stepped through the door.  How far did that surveillance extend? Did it stop at the door or the common areas? Were the bedrooms under watch?

     “Don’t think so loudly John.” Sherlock broke in as he unwound the scarf from his neck and hung it neatly on the hook provided. The man acted as if it were perfectly natural to walk into a random house and make himself at home. “This is one of Mycroft’s personal houses, it’s unlikely he has cameras inside. He’s a bit of a hypocrite that way.”

     “Well, that’s comforting.” John looked around the house. The grandma chic theme continued inside as well. There were vases of flowers and doilies on every table. Expensive looking knickknacks were arranged neatly on shelves and tucked into alcoves. The sofa was a rather alarming shade of pink and covered in plastic. “This is not what I would have pictured for Mycroft’s house either.”

     “Mmm.” Sherlock hummed as he kicked off his shoes and wandered further into the room. “Mummy decorated it. She stays here when she’s in the city.”

     John blinked slowly. “Does she come often?” what he really meant was ‘is your mother going to walk in on us?’

   To his credit, Sherlock did seem to pick up the subtext as he busied himself slightly displacing everything in the room. “No, it’s been at least two years. She hates the city.” Sherlock’s voice clearly showed what he thought of anyone being anything less than completely in love with London.

     John slowly removed his coat and shoes, leaving them at the door beside Sherlock’s. “Is there anything to eat; do you think?” John was famished; other than a few bites of invalid food at the hospital, he couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten a solid meal.

     The room apparently disarranged to his liking, Sherlock dusted off his hands. “Yes, the kitchen should be stocked. Mycroft is annoyingly thorough about these things.” He turned and walked through an archway into what appeared to be a formal dining room. John hurried behind him, just in time to see him walking through the swinging door and into a large kitchen.

      Blinking slightly John took in the room. The kitchen was enormous, the commercial grade appliances and counters were gleaming stainless steel. He could have cooked for an entire army in the huge room.  Sherlock padded across the floor as if it was a completely normal kitchen, and John supposed that for him it must have been.

    Really, John thought, he should have figured that Sherlock came from money. Between the bespoke suit and jacket, and the brother who apparently ran the country, Sherlock’s affluence should have been obvious. Somehow though, it hadn’t quite hit him until he saw the complete disdain Sherlock had for the luxuries surrounding him. It was like he didn’t even see them.  After a few uncomfortable moments John forced himself to move away from the part of him that wondered just how well off Sherlock could be. He hadn’t known, and it didn’t change anything between them really.

     In the end it was the work of only a few minutes to make sandwiches from the well-stocked fridge. John sat across from Sherlock at one of the gleaming counter tops as they ate. Sherlock had even managed to find a bag of crisps that they split between them. Neither said much as they ate, each too caught up in their own thoughts and occupied with their food. It wasn’t until John finished wiping up the last of the crumbs from the table that Sherlock reached out to take his hand and pull him up the stairs.

*****

     It wouldn’t do to bring John into Mummy’s room Sherlock decided as he considered his options. It wasn’t so much that he objected to the idea of her room for her sake, most likely Mycroft was planning on replacing whichever bed they chose anyway, but the garish flowers and such only got worse in the privacy of her inner sanctum. In the end Sherlock brought John into the largest guest room, the colours a much more neutral combination of midnight blue and gold. It wouldn’t make Sherlock retch anyway.

     As the door closed behind them Sherlock released John and turned to sit on the large bed in the centre of the room. Part of him was nervous about what came next, however illogical the thought may have been. Sherlock couldn’t bring himself to meet John’s eyes, looking instead at everything else the room had to offer. There wasn’t much.

     Thankfully John seemed to understand; he sat on the bed as well, but was careful to leave some distance between them. Sherlock admonished himself; there was no reason to get nervous now. He had chosen this, and he would follow through. Somehow though, he couldn’t quite bring himself to move.

     After a few moments John finally spoke up, breaking the silence. “Talk to me.”

     Sherlock blinked at the man. “What could there possibly be to talk about?”

     John’s smile was kind as he looked softly at Sherlock. Suddenly Sherlock saw a vision of John as he was in the warehouse, all sharp angles and danger. How could they possibly be the same man? “Just tell me what you’re thinking. Be honest about it. I want to help.”

     Wetting his lips slightly with the tip of his tongue, Sherlock considered what he could possibly say. “I’m rather nervous.” He eventually responded. There, that was obvious enough to start with.

     John’s eyes crinkled slightly around the edges, Sherlock had noticed he only did it when he was worried about something, but what could he possibly have to be nervous about in this situation? “Well, that’s understandable.” John started slowly. “But I’m going to do everything I can to make you comfortable. If you decide you want me to stop, you just have to tell me and I will.”

     The words did reassure Sherlock. He looked at the Alpha, studying the stiff way John held himself and the way his eyes looked at Sherlock; the man looked at him as if he thought Sherlock would vanish in a puff of smoke at any moment. John was nervous too, Sherlock realized suddenly as he took in all of the little signs that he could read so clearly. Somehow this soothed the last of his uncertainty; obviously his feelings on the subject were completely normal.

      “I know,” Sherlock replied, running a hand through his hair. He didn’t miss how John’s eyes followed the path of his hand, his own fingers reaching out slightly as if he wanted to reach out and smooth the curls back down. “However, I am unsure where to start.” Suddenly it was different than before, knowing that if he leaned in this time they would finish what they started.

     Tilting his head slightly John studied Sherlock for a few moments before apparently coming to some sort of decision. “How about you let me worry about that, yeah? You just tell me if what I’m doing feels good or if you want me to stop. Would that work?”

     Suddenly Sherlock’s mouth was dry under the scrutinizing eyes. “Yes.”

     “Good.” Suddenly John was leaning across the bed. Sherlock expected him to immediately go in for a bruising kiss, and was surprised when John reached out a hand to touch Sherlock’s cheek, fingers trailing down to cup his cheek. “You are beautiful, do you know that?”

     Sherlock had been called quite a number of things in his life, most of them unpleasant, but he had never once been called beautiful. Opening his mouth slightly, Sherlock wasn’t sure if he wanted to protest the unexpected compliment or not. John didn’t give him a chance. Slowly leaning forward he pushed his hand back to cradle Sherlock’s head as he leaned in to kiss the omega.

     It was softer than before, more careful, Sherlock noticed. John was making an effort to go slow for him, keeping the kiss light and sweet as he moved closer to press himself against Sherlock. The hand at the back of his head lightly moved to play in his curls as the other reached to caress his arm, leaving a trail of fire behind as it travelled upwards. Sherlock moaned slightly as the fingers gently began to stroke his neck and trail softly around the outer edge of his ear. Sherlock had never before appreciated exactly how sensitive one’s ears could be.

     After a few moments Sherlock reached up to grasp at John’s arm, pulling him closer as John continued to trail kisses down his neck. Slowly Sherlock became aware of the fact that John was unbuttoning his shirt, fingers ghosting over each exposed piece of skin as he moved down the front of Sherlock’s body. As the shirt came completely undone John pushed it away from his shoulders and Sherlock felt unexpectedly bare in front of him.

     Sherlock leaned forward, pulling John’s lips back to his in deep kiss as the Alpha’s hands played along the waistband of his trousers. The cool air nipped gently at his chest in perfect contrast to the warmth of John’s skin.  Sherlock realized that he hadn’t even noticed the alpha taking off his own shirt. Sherlock pulled back suddenly, needing a moment to breathe as he took in the sensations washing over him. John seemed to understand, leaning back calmly as he let the omega’s eyes trail over him.

      Sherlock was fascinated by John. After a few moments he reached forward and began to trail his fingers across the other man’s chest, exploring John’s past with the tips of his fingers. John sucked in a breath at the contact, but seemed content to watch Sherlock with heavily lidded eyes as the omega caressed his skin. The most obvious thing that Sherlock noticed was that John was still very fit despite his injuries; the smooth lean muscles spoke of practical strength versus the intentionally bulked out look that some alphas tended to prefer.

     There were several scars across John’s chest, varying from small and well faded, likely obtained in childhood, to the bright red of his wounded shoulder. Sherlock traced each one as John murmured their origins in his ear, until finally there was only the large bullet wound left. Sherlock was hesitant to touch it, gently brushing his fingers along the outer edges as he inspected the puckered tissue. He didn’t miss how John froze as he looked at the shoulder, the alpha holding his breath as if he were afraid of Sherlock’s reaction. Gently Sherlock leaned forward to press a soft kiss to the injured flesh there before moving on.

     Sherlock leaned forward to trail his hand along Johns arm, fingers tracing the vein that flowed from elbow to wrist and back. John sucked in a breath as Sherlock’s fingers danced over the sensitive skin. Sherlock lifted John’s hand, tracing the lines of his palm as he inspected it carefully; these hands had saved lives and they had killed for him. Acting purely on instinct, Sherlock brought the fingers to his mouth, gently pressing a kiss to each fingertip.

     John’s fingers were warm beneath his lips, and impulsively Sherlock’s tongue darted out to taste his skin. It was surprisingly pleasant actually, slightly salty but mellow and somehow earthy; the smell of cedar and bergamot grew stronger, making his head nearly spin even as he marvelled at the feel of John shuddering lightly beneath his ministrations. Sherlock looked up at John to realize that the alpha’s pupils were blown wide, the need that he felt obvious on his face. It was a heady feeling, to know that he was doing this to John.

      Leaning in again, John reached up immediately, initiating another heated kiss as one hand tangled in Sherlock’s hair and the other worked deftly to undo his trousers. Sherlock could feel the warmth between his thighs as John’s fingers began to gently brush against him through the thin fabric of his underwear.  John moved from his almost too sensitive vent to trace the underside of his penis. Sherlock arched back with a whimper at the touch, entirely unable to stay still under John’s hand. He nearly came completely undone right there as John pulled his underwear away completely.

     “God, you are so beautiful.” John’s voice was low and rough as he buried his face into the curve of Sherlock’s neck. He nipped and nuzzled along Sherlock’s neck, paying special attention to the crux of his neck. Sherlock shuddered with pleasure as John nipped at the sensitive skin over his scent glands. John was scenting him, Sherlock realized, taking the first step to inducing the artificial heat and starting the bonding. Sherlock moaned slightly, tilting his head back to give John a better angle. As quickly as they had started John’s lips were gone, leaving Sherlock to open his eyes as he protested the sudden loss of sensation.

    John looked down at him, breathing hard. “Last chance to change your mind,” he offered roughly.

    For once Sherlock didn’t even have to think. “Do it.”

    John’s teeth were at his throat, rougher now than before. Sherlock moaned as John worked his way down to his collar bone. There were sure to be marks tomorrow Sherlock realized; but that was rather the point. Sherlock’s body was singing as John’s scent wrapped around him. Without warning John suddenly bit down hard, breaking the skin. Sherlock hissed and tried to pull away instinctually; the bite was deep and burned like fire on his neck. John pinned Sherlock still against the bed as he bit down again, alternating between lapping almost apologetically at the wound and ensuring it was deep enough to take. After a few moments endorphins began to rush through Sherlock’s system as his body registered John’s intentions. His body reacted viciously, every cell screaming suddenly and intensely for them to complete the bond.

     The heat descended onto him suddenly and with an intensity that he had never felt before. Sherlock whined and pulled desperately at John’s trousers. Why did the man still have them on at all? John pulled back suddenly, and Sherlock almost howled in frustration. Then just as quickly John was there again, his hands tracing cool paths across Sherlock’s burning skin.

     Nearly sobbing with need, Sherlock turned to present to John. The alpha’s hand was steady at his hip, keeping Sherlock grounded as sensations wracked his body. John took the time to stretch him carefully even as slick practically dripped between his thighs. John’s talented hands ran across him, playing his body like an instrument as Sherlock begged, almost out of his mind in desperation.

     Finally he felt the pressure of John’s cock pressing against him. Sherlock gasped, instantly trying to rock back onto the alpha until John pinned him against the bed with a low growl. “Be still.” Sherlock froze instantly with a deep groan; at this point he could no more refuse his alpha than he could walk to the moon.

     The pressure increased, Sherlock could feel himself stretching in a way that he never had before. Sensations battled behind his eyelids; conflicting feelings were flashing like sparks. It pinched slightly even as the feeling of satisfaction rose to overpower everything else. This was exactly what his body said he needed. John gave him a moment to adjust to the feeling before nearly pulling out entirely and moving forward with a smooth thrust. Something inside of Sherlock burst into white hot awareness and Sherlock let out a surprised cry.

     He could feel the knot began to swell as John moved inside him, each movement bringing a fresh wave of bliss crashing down over him as he hit that spot over and over. An endless stream of incomprehensible pleas and moans poured from his mouth as John set the pace. It was all he could do to keep his hands knotted in the sheets as the feelings rained down on him.

     When John leaned forward to press his mouth to Sherlock’s fresh bond mark, Sherlock couldn’t hold it back anymore. Wave after wave pulsed through him as his body tensed and he came with a gasping shudder.  John only gave a few more strokes before he was coming as well, the alpha nearly collapsing beneath the weight of his orgasm. Sherlock felt the knot swell between them, binding them together as they shook slightly with the aftershocks.

     After a few moments John carefully manoeuvred them down until they were lying on the bed together, spent and exhausted. John was murmuring in his ear, but Sherlock couldn’t quite understand the words through the haze surrounding him. Eventually John stopped in favour of pressing a kiss to the tender mark on his shoulder, setting off another round of trembling aftershocks. They stayed there, lying quietly together in the aftermath. It wasn’t long until Sherlock’s eyes slid shut with a satisfied sigh. John reached to pull the thick comforter over them, and together they slipped into contented sleep.

Chapter Text

     Sherlock jerked awake with a gasp. Throwing the blankets away from himself, Sherlock sat up in an attempt to stop the nausea that was rolling through his stomach. He could feel his heart beating far too quickly, his neck throbbed in tune to his frantic pulse. Eyes darting around wildly, he tried to take in his surroundings as the words from his nightmares still echoed in his ears. ‘You shouldn't have provoked him.'

     A soft huff of breath brought Sherlock's attention back to the snoring alpha curled up next to him. Reaching out a hesitant hand, Sherlock ran his fingers gently through John's short blond hair. For a moment, Sherlock almost managed to convince himself to slip back under the covers; to close his eyes and enjoy the warmth that the other man radiated.

     As he went to move, however, John growled softly. Sherlock froze. John reached out blindly, one hand snagging Sherlock's wrist in an attempt to draw the other man closer to him. "Mine," John mumbled under his breath, still deep asleep.

     Sherlock stiffened, feeling the bite of bricks digging into his back as he was tossed against a rough wall. ‘Mine.' The alpha snarled- the voice so cruel and surprisingly unfamiliar. Sherlock hadn't known the man could even sound like that.

     ‘That's just how alphas are, they can't help it. You shouldn't have provoked him.'

     Sherlock forced himself out of the memory and back to the present. He wasn't in an alley; he was in a bed with John. Carefully, so as not to wake the sleeping man, Sherlock pried the fingers from his wrist before slipping from the mattress. 

     He gathered his clothes quickly and darted out of the room, not even stopping to dress until the door had closed silently behind him.

*****

     The bright light pouring through the window was blinding. Burying his face into the plush pillow, the scent of oranges and cloves slowly stirred John’s senses towards wakefulness.

      ‘Sherlock' he thought, reaching out and trying to pull the sleeping omega closer. The sheets were cool under his fingertips.  John frowned as he reached out again, searching sightlessly for the warm body that should be curled into bed with him. Nothing. 

     Something heavy settled into his stomach as he finally opened his eyes, sitting up and looking around the room. Sherlock was nowhere to be found. The room was silent, the bathroom door hung open and empty. John's clothes were the only ones scattered along the floor.

     John's alpha immediately raced to the forefront of his half-awake mind. He needed to find Sherlock and he needed to find him now. His mate should be there, next to him and he wasn't.

    Scrambling out of bed, John reached for his pants and tugged them quickly on before moving quickly to the door. "Sherlock?" he called out and heard nothing but echoing silence. "Sherlock, where are you?" Nothing.

     Rationally John knew that Sherlock was likely completely fine, he was a grown man. ‘He's probably just in the kitchen getting breakfast. Maybe he made tea,' he told himself as he left the bedroom. Deep down, he knew that the house was far too quiet for that. 

     John's alpha instincts were having none of it. He had woken up on the day after his bonding and his mate was gone. ‘We should be together, establishing our bond.  Where is he?'  Checking each room he passed, John fought against the steadily rising panic as instinct warred against his rational mind.

     He didn't quite realize when he had started to run, until suddenly he was rushing through the empty kitchen, trying desperately to find any trace of the other man. ‘Gone gone gone gone' repeated on an endless loop in his head as he tore through the rest of the house, ripping open doors just to slam them again in instant frustration when Sherlock wasn't revealed.

     John froze as he made it to the front door, the last door. Surely Sherlock wouldn't have? But apparently, he would. The omega's coat and scarf were gone; there were no signs of a struggle, no evidence to suggest that anything untoward had happened. Sherlock had simply put on his coat, and walked away. The door was even locked behind him.

     Suddenly, John rather thought that he might be sick. Panicked thoughts swirled through his mind like dirty dishwater down a drain. That deep, primal part of him howled in agony as he demanded the presence of his recently bonded mate.  But Sherlock left him. Sherlock abandoned him in their nest, on the first morning of their bond. Sherlock didn't want him.

     “Oh God, no,” John realized that his hands were shaking, and his leg was in agony. Slowly, he sank to his knees and fought the urge to vomit as every cell in his body screamed at him to go now and find the omega.

     With sudden shattering clarity, John realized that he had not even the faintest idea of where to begin looking for Sherlock. He didn't know anything about Sherlock's favorite hideouts. John didn't even know where he lived. 

     Pressing his eyes closed, John rested his forehead against the cool wood of the floor as he forced himself to focus on his breathing. He took the slowest and deepest breaths he could manage, working his way through every breathing pattern he could remember or invent.

     There was no knowing how long it took for John to finally get himself under control. By the time he managed to breathe steadily, the shaking of his hands had started to recede slightly. Slowly he pulled himself up from the floor, resting his weight onto his heels.  As he did, he became aware of the fact that for the most part, he was still distinctly undressed.

     John's face burned as red as he took in the picture that he must make, kneeling on the floor in the midst of a panic attack. He really hoped that Sherlock was right and that Mycroft didn't have cameras in the house. John would never be able to look the older alpha in the face again.

     Slowly, John pulled himself up and turned to climb the stairs; his fingers clutched at the banister as he forced his aching leg up each step. He would have done anything for his cane, but he couldn't even remember where he had left the damned thing. As John made it back into the bedroom, he allowed himself to collapse on the large bed. After a few moments, he sighed and bent to begin collecting his discarded clothes.

     As John picked up his trousers, something fell out of the pocket with a solid thud. His phone, John was startled to realize. He felt the sudden urge to call someone; he wasn't sure who exactly, but there had to be someone. Who do you call when your new bondmate disappears from right under your nose?

     The first thing he saw as the screen lit up was that he had a new message from an unknown number. It took him three tries to punch in the proper code to unlock his phone. Opening it, he felt what little color he had managed to regain drain from his face.    

On a case- SH

     John looked blankly at the screen as the words sunk in. "That utter bastard," John muttered aloud, fingers clenching around the phone in his hand.  Had Sherlock really run off on his own for a case when he should have been letting their bond settle? Why hadn't he woken John up?

      John tapped the number on the phone to call the omega. It rang exactly twice before forwarding to voicemail. Swearing softly, John tried again. This time it only rang once. Sherlock was ignoring his calls.

     With a furious growl, John began to pull on the rest of his clothing. The moment he finished pulling on his shoes he stormed down the hallway and straight out of the house.

     John almost wasn't surprised to see the black car sitting just outside.

     John strode up to a rather pretty dark-haired woman tapping on the blackberry as she waited on the sidewalk. She didn't bother to look up as she reached out with one hand to open the car door for him. "After you." Her voice was light and feminine, and exactly the opposite of the voice that John had wanted to hear this morning.

     "Where is he?" John asked flatly, staring at the woman.

     "I've been instructed to take you to him." She looked up for a moment, meeting his eyes and giving him an insincere little smile before looking back down at her phone. "Terribly sorry of course."

     "Right." John pinched his lips shut against the flood of words that wanted to spill out. He

Only the rapid tapping of the phone broke the silence as John considered his options. He could get into the car with the beta woman, who was obviously a member of Mycroft's staff.  He could try to find Sherlock on his own. John didn't even know where to begin to look; Sherlock could be anywhere in London. It really wasn't a decision at all, was it? After a few tense moments, he cut his eyes angrily at the car before turning to climb inside.

 

*****

 

     "Sherlock! What in God's name are you doing here?" Greg's voice was muffled slightly by the heavy cloth covering his nose and mouth. The heady scent of recently bonded omega hung cloyingly in the air; it was absolutely impossible to ignore as Sherlock swanned around the crime scene. Greg had already dismissed the other alphas on the team; their reactions had varied from absolute disgust from Sally to begrudging attraction from Jones.

     "Solving your case for you." Sherlock seemed completely oblivious to the scene he was causing as he peered down at the body. "I don't know why I bothered, the killer is perfectly obvious."

     "You shouldn't be here! Don't you know anything? Where's your alpha?  You smell like a brothel for Christ's sake." Even with the cloth, it was hard for Greg to focus on anything other than the instinctive desire to attempt to claim the newly bonded omega as his own.

     ‘Obviously, his alpha isn't worthy of him.' Greg's inner alpha whispered dangerously. Greg forced the thought away firmly. "Did you even bother to take a shower before you decided to take off across the city?"

      "John was sleeping," Sherlock replied carelessly as he turned away from the body. "Honestly, he probably won't even notice I've gone."

     "I highly doubt that," Greg muttered. He couldn't even imagine the reaction if John woke up to find Sherlock gone. He felt a sudden surge of sympathy for the other alpha; he had seemed sensible enough the other day. The man obviously had no idea what he had gotten himself into. "You need to go back right now. Seriously, you need to find John and stay with him until your bond settles in. Half the block can smell you right now. It's too soon."

     "It's fine Lestrade!" Sherlock snapped, moving to brush past the alpha. "If you feel like it's such an issue, I'll leave you to find the killer yourself. I'm sure your very competent team will take care of it in no time at all." 

     Without thinking about it, Greg reached out to grab Sherlock by the arm, eyes widening as he got a full dose of pheromones in the process. Greg licked his suddenly dry lips. "Look here-"

     "Don't touch him!" John snarled as he materialized as if from nowhere, thrusting himself between Sherlock and the detective.

     "Yes. Sorry." Greg jerked his hand back as if he had been burned, and retreated a few feet under the suspicious gaze of the other alpha. Greg didn't know where John had come from, but he had known better than to try to touch Sherlock in his current state. "I won't touch him."

     The thick tension hung in the air as John stared hard at Greg, silently weighing his words. Greg did his best to convey without words exactly how relieved he was that the other alpha had shown up, and how little he truly wanted to submit any kind of claim. Thankfully John's presence as Sherlock's alpha made the pheromones hanging in the air much more bearable, and Greg was able to think much more clearly.

     After a moment some of the tautness drained out of the shorter alpha. "Sorry. I'm a little on edge, I shouldn't have done that." John’s eyes darted to Sherlock as if to assure himself that the taller man was okay.

     Greg hesitated for only an instant before accepting the apology with a gracious nod.  "I'm sorry for trying to touch your mate." Greg put a definite emphasis on the ‘your', causing another few ounces of strain to leave the shorter man's shoulders.

     "This is completely unnecessary John." Sherlock protested, pulling away from the alpha with narrowed eyes.

     "Oh, is it?" John snapped, cutting his eyes at Sherlock. "Why did you leave the house? What were you thinking? You should have said something, Sherlock!"

     Sherlock was in his usual fine form, Greg noticed as the omega drew himself up with a haughty sniff. "There was a murder!"  As if that was an explanation for everything. Maybe, to him it was.

     "A murder we didn't need you on, actually," Greg spoke up without thought. The look that Sherlock shot him was practically poisonous. "We had to evacuate half the team because of you. This is an active crime scene. I have a job to do, and you managed to chase off most of my best people."

     "If you didn't need me then you shouldn't have asked for my help." Sherlock hissed as he tucked himself further into that ridiculous coat.

    "I don't recall asking for your help at all." Greg shot back instantly. "You just showed up." If Greg ever figured out how Sherlock managed that trick, he would ride on the victory for weeks, maybe even months.

      "Irrelevant." Sherlock turned away from Greg with a toss of his head. "The case was hardly a three anyway. It was obviously the lover; she might as well have left a signed confession, she was so desperate to be caught."

     John stepped forward to block Sherlock's path as the omega tried to stride away. "We need to talk." Looking pointedly at Greg, "in private," he added.

     "Yes, great idea! Have your little domestic literally anywhere else" Greg motioned towards the woman lying on the asphalt, "This being an active crime scene and all."

     "I've already solved the case. Were you paying attention at all?" Sherlock frowned disapprovingly at Greg, an expression that he knew well.

     "I'm sure the DI has everything he needs." John's voice was firm as he reached out to grab Sherlock's sleeve as if he were going to physically pull him away. "Come on. There is a car waiting."

     John managed a polite nod at Greg before turning to the car. Sherlock held firm, watching the shorter man for several moments with an odd look on his face, but ultimately he allowed John to pull him away from the crime scene without as much as a backwards glance.

     Reaching into his pocket, Greg grabbed his phone and hit Donovan's name. "Yeah, Sally? We need to call the girlfriend in for questioning."

*****

     As they approached the car, John noticed the beta woman was waiting once again just outside the door. She still stared intently into her blackberry, but now she held a clipboard and pen as well. She carelessly held them out to John as soon as the man was close enough to reach it. "Sign this."

     "Ah, Anthea." Sherlock drawled. "Still wasting yourself on running petty errands for my lazy brother, I see." 

     "Sherlock." Anthea greeted neutrally. John was startled to realize that it had never even occurred to him to attempt to get the woman's name on the long drive over.

     John looked at the clipboard as he pulled it into his hand. The paper attached was a Registration of Bonding, the information on the certificate already neatly filled out for the day before. The only things missing were the two signatures at the bottom of the page. "Don't we need to sign this in front of a solicitor or something?" John asked.

     "Yes," came the faintly impatient response. The woman didn't even look up from her phone.

     John paused a moment, raising an eyebrow before looking around in exaggerated motions when he received no further response. "So, were you planning on pulling one out of your pocket?"

     They were the only people for several feet in any direction. Everyone was giving Sherlock as wide of a berth as possible without actually having to go around the block to put the building between them.

     For the first time, Anthea stopped typing entirely as her head turned and she looked up into John's face. Her expression was mild, even pleasant. However, something sparked dangerously in her gaze. Her eyes whispered threats of violence previously unseen in this world. Her voice was polite, but each word was enunciated slowly and carefully as if she were speaking to a very small child. "That would be me."

     "Ah." John looked down at the paper, chastised, as Sherlock snorted softly behind him. "Well then."

     John quickly signed his name before practically shoving the clipboard at Sherlock. Sherlock's script looked much neater, almost artistic next to John's physician's scrawl.

     Anthea took the board back, tucking it neatly under her arm again as her phone pinged a notification at her. "I will file this immediately." She turned to walk away.

     "Aren't you going to ride with us?" John asked, gesturing to the waiting car.

     Anthea's lips quirked slightly, as if she were barely holding back a laugh at the suggestion. "Yeah, no." Without a backwards glance, she walked away from the car, disappearing from view as she turned the corner onto the main road.

     "Great job, John," Sherlock drawled as he opened the door to the car. "I'm impressed. I can't remember the last time I've seen anyone piss Anthea off quite that neatly. If I were you, I would keep an eye out for venomous snakes in the bed."

     "I don't feel like joking right now Sherlock." John sighed as he followed the omega into the car. "I'm still angry with you. What were you thinking?"

     Sherlock chose not to mention the fact that he hadn't, in fact, been joking at all. "I was thinking that there was a murder, dull as it turned out to be in the end." Sherlock lied easily as he turned to look through the window. "There was nothing for me to do John. I was going out of my mind."

     Sherlock seemed completely unconcerned, which only served to make John angrier and more determined to get his point across. "You could have woken me up. You could have watched the telly. You could have done literally anything other than wander around London alone, the day after our bonding."

     "I was fine." Sherlock hissed, eyes glinting steel as they narrowed on John. "You are completely overreacting."

     "You were not fine Sherlock!" John growled. "Even Lestrade was trying to convince you that you needed to go home!"

     "Lestrade does not control me, and neither do you!" Sherlock snapped, practically yelling as blood flooded his face. John's eyes widened in surprise as he unconsciously pulled away from the angry omega.

      The moment crystallized dangerously between them. Turning, John leaned against the door of the car as he studied the other man silently. He took in the almost wild eyes and the slightly ragged quality of Sherlock's angry puffing. He could smell the tension rolling from the omega in bitter waves; it made John think of biting directly into an orange peel instead of the sweet fruit hidden within.

     "Is that what this is about?" He asked quietly, trusting that the omega would hear him. "Control?"

     "Everything is about control," Sherlock responded flatly, arms crossed tightly across his chest as he regarded the shorter alpha.

     "No." John's voice was firm.

     "What do you mean no?" Sherlock asked suspiciously.

     "That's not what this is about Sherlock." John sighed, reaching up to rub a frustrated hand through the back of his hair as he considered his words. "I don't want to control you."

     "Right." Sherlock snorted in disbelief. "Then what was the point of chasing me halfway across London this morning?"

     John was silent for several minutes before he let out a deep sigh, and slumped slightly into his seat. "Do you have any idea how I felt when I woke up and you weren't there? I was terrified. I panicked."

     "It was a case, John. That's what I do." Sherlock bit back, eyes flashing dangerously "I'm not going to stop taking cases."

     "I don't want you to stop taking cases!" John slammed his hand on his leg for emphasis, startling Sherlock and causing the taller man to pull back slightly.

     "Then what do you want, John?" Sherlock hissed, "A pretty omega to rub your feet and carry your brood, always waiting at home with open legs and a smile when you get in from work?"

     "Wha- Sherlock I thought we were past this!" John sputtered, wide-eyed as he tried to make sense of the turn in the conversation. "I don't want that, at all. What's gotten into you?"

     "What's gotten into me?" Sherlock yelled, gesturing wildly around the car, "you showed up at a crime scene, reeking of alpha pheromones and ready to challenge Lestrade in a dominance fight, just for daring to touch my elbow."

     John winced. "That was not my best moment," he acknowledged, "But Sherlock, I had no idea what was going on. You just left me. Do you have any idea what I thought?"

     "I'm sure I get the gist," Sherlock responded with a sniff.

     "No, I don't think you do," John said. "I woke up and you were gone. You know that the bond hasn't had time to settle in completely. It would be easy- too easy for someone else to overwrite the bond right now."

     Sherlock's lips tightened slightly, but he didn't respond to the alpha's words. 

     "It felt like you were saying that any alpha off of the street would be better. Did I really do anything to deserve that?" John asked, eyes pleading with the man to just understand where he was coming from.

     "You're overreacting, John." Sherlock returned, but the fire had begun to leave his words. "It was just a case." Sherlock's expression froze as he did his best not to betray the twinge of guilt he felt at those words. Sherlock had known the dangers before he left, but he simply hadn't been able to stay in that house for one moment longer. "I sent a text."

     John shook his head, something sad playing behind his eyes. "I practically tore the house to pieces looking for you before I ever saw that text. I thought someone had taken you. Maybe I overreacted, but maybe I didn't. If you'll remember, you just got out of the hospital yesterday from your last abduction."

     After a few quiet moments, Sherlock let out a small huff of air and lowered his head slightly in acquiescence.  "Well, abductions are hardly a regular occurrence John.”

“Sherlock,” John let out an incredulous little laugh, “I’ve known you three days and it’s happened once. As far as I know, you’re due another.” Had it really only been three days? John felt like he had known the strange and brilliant omega for so much longer than that.

Sherlock chewed slightly at his lip. “I can try to notify you first next time, but I don't plan on it happening again for a long while; no sooner than another week or two at least." Sherlock offered, hoping that the alpha would accept the peace offering as it was meant.

    "At least." John agreed with a small sigh before easing a little further into the seat behind him. Some of the tension began to drain from the air between them as John gave Sherlock a tired half-smile before continuing.

     "I was worried about you Sherlock. There are reasons, good reasons, for the bonding retreat. Your body is still adjusting, our bond is still forming. From a biological standpoint, you are dangerously vulnerable right now." John reached, almost as if he were going to let himself touch where the mark was hidden beneath Sherlock's collar, but his hand dropped before it even got close. "I just want you to be safe."

     "I was completely fine," Sherlock muttered as he looked down at his lap, pretending not to have noticed the aborted gesture. "I can take care of myself."

     "Of course you can." Sherlock looked up at John's the bemused expression on John's face. "You've been doing it for years, Sherlock. I know you are capable of taking care of yourself."

     "Then why are you so upset?" Sherlock asked suspiciously, feeling like he was walking into some form of trap.

     "Well, you don't have to just take care of yourself anymore, do you?" John smiled faintly. "We're a team now. We take care of each other. If you want to go chasing dangerous criminals all over London at least let me know first so I can get my gun. I'm here to watch your back, yeah? "

     Well, that was unexpected. Sherlock could feel the words sinking into his skin like a balm he hadn't known he needed. "You're," Sherlock stopped, clearing his throat awkwardly before continuing stiltedly. "You're right John. I'm-” Sherlock paused as if he could barely get the words out. “It won't happen again."

     "Oh, I'm sure it will," John gave a rueful chuckle, "but at least I'll be prepared next time, right?"

     Sherlock felt an odd warmth in his chest as he smiled a rare, genuine smile at the alpha.

     John wasn't a thing like Sebastian.